Allen the Idiot

Love and Death” (1975)

dir. Woody Allen

In the opening scenes of “Love and Death” the young Russian protagonist begins to ask of himself serious theological questions, “I was walking through the woods, thinking about Christ. If he was a carpenter, I wondered what he charged for bookshelves.” Setting the tone for a witty and mocking send-up of the epic Russian novel, using a combination of gags, in-jokes, commentary, criticism, homage, allegory, and pretentious, over-analytical philosophical discourse. The film’s most impressive achievement is its ability to synthesize the style and scope of an epic like War and Peace all the while keeping a running time of under 90 minutes. It also features some high-value battle sequences for a comedy.  Like “Annie Hall” or “Bananas” the film’s episodic narrative takes the form of vignettes and asides. It’s one of Allen’s most inventive works. (A knowledge of cinema and literature is recommended but not necessary.)

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3 thoughts on “Allen the Idiot

  1. This is one of my favourite comedies but almost no-one seems to have seen it. I love most Woody Allen stuff even the later, ‘unfunny’ ones (except ‘Interiors’ of course; its humanly impossible to like ‘Interiors’). Did you see ‘Stardust Memories’? Everyone seems to hate that but I think its far superior to ‘Manhatten’ which, to me, is basically a glossy travel brochure for NY. Enjoying your reviews.

  2. Doesnt really do it for me. Best thing about Manhatten is the music which isn’t the work of Woody Allen. Also, I find the character played by WA quite unsympathetic and quite annoying (although he has some great one-liners as always). One of my favourite later ones is ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’. I just remembered the brilliant ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ too.

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