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The Woody Allen Collection: Volume Three

  • Broadway Danny Rose
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • Radio Days
  • Zelig

  • Summary
  • Leonard Zelig is a chameleon, literally. Scarred by a traumatic childhood, Zelig is so eager to please those around him, that he becomes just like them. Physically. Ingeniously filmed as a mock documentary consisting of old newsreel footage, Woody Allen's cult classic Zelig is one of the director's most ambitious and unusual films. Allen stars a Zelig, a depression-era man who becomes a media sensation when doctors discover that his physical appearance changes to resemble those around him. The mousy, timid Zelig becomes fat, black, Scottish, whatever, within mere minutes in the company of strangers. He is hailed a physiological miracle man. While doctors study him, Zelig's unprecedented malleability and sordid life story inspires popular songs, dances, and even a biopic. As the media churns him through the celebrity sausage-maker, the only person concerned with Zelig's well-being is unassuming psychiatrist Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow, natch). The true genius of Zelig, beyond the technical skill with which Allen's image is superimposed into historical footage, is its able balance between the silly and the profound. The novelty of the idea is perfectly executed, often producing well-earned laughs, but Allen also adeptly examines one of the great by-products of the modern malaise: the identity crisis. Although the film runs barely 80 minutes, it does feel as though an hour would have been sufficient, and because of its removed retrospective-documentary approach, the emotional connection between audience and characters is limited. Nevertheless, Zelig is one of the most unique and refreshing American comedies, and those Zelig songs are priceless. Presented in a fine, though by no means meticulous, 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer and Dolby Digital mono (Allen's preferred audio format). Trailer, keep-case.
    —Gregory P. Dorr

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