DVD Zelig [DVD] [Widescreen] [1994] [Multilingual] [Region 1] (DVD 53403),
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Zelig [DVD] [Widescreen] [1994] [Multilingual] [Region 1]

  • PG
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Perhaps the most unique film of his career, Woody Allen's ZELIG not only stands as a technical triumph for a director not often associated with the technological aspect of filmmaking, but also utilizes a documentary aesthetic that Allen has not often used before or since. One of the first major mockumentaries produced (it was released a year before THIS IS SPINAL TAP), ZELIG combines voice-over, footage both historical and faux-historical, and staged interviews with famous intellectuals to tell the story of Leonard Zelig (Allen), the "Chameleon Man" of the 1920s and '30s who has since been largely forgotten. Zelig creates a media sensation when he is discovered, for he seems to have the unique ability to transform himself to fit in with whomever he finds himself--when encountering Greeks, he becomes Greek; surrounded by fat men, he becomes heftier. But his condition leaves him open to exploitation, and the only person who believes in him is ambitious psychologist Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow).

    Technologically the film is a marvel, especially when the production history is taken into account. Allen wanted the film to appear genuinely from the period, and the footage shot was reportedly captured on equipment used during the 1920s. Even more astonishing is the manner in which Allen and other cast members were smoothly integrated into old photographs and film footage, some with distinguished historical figures, years before the advent of seamless digital techniques and over a decade before a similar strategy was used in FORREST GUMP. The setting and the aim for verisimilitude allow Allen to explore one of the most serious themes of his career: the assimilation of Jews and other immigrant groups into American culture, although the subject is still tempered by his intelligent verbal wit (for example, the voiceover explains: "As a boy, Leonard Zelig is frequently bullied by anti-Semites. His parents, who never take his part and blame him for everything, side with the anti-Semites"). Allen sees this desire for assimilation as a necessary part of cultural inclusion, but recognizes its dangers, as being a "Chameleon Man" seems only one step away from outright fascism.
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  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): DVD1001749

  • Credits
    Woody Allen, Allan Stewart Konigsberg, Mia Farrow, Maria de Lourdes Villiers Farrow, Susan Sontag, Mary Louise Wilson, Michael Jeter, Irving Howe
  • Critic Reviews
    "...ZELIG is full of frantic invention [and] distinguishing lyrical whimsicality..."
    Sight and Sound

    "...Technically, ZELIG is something of a cinematic marvel....Woody Allen's triumph..."
    New York Times

    Included in The New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1983"
    New York Times

    "...Uniquely conceived and subtly entertaining....Technically, ZELIG is a masterwork..."
    Variety

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