Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1983. Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions, Orion Pictures. Screenplay by Woody Allen. Cinematography by Gordon Willis. Produced by Robert Greenhut. Music by Dick Hyman. Production Design by Mel Bourne. Costume Design by Santo Loquasto. Film Editing by Susan E. Morse. Academy Awards 1983. Golden Globe Awards 1983.
One of Woody Allen‘s most fascinating achievements as an artist, and he has never made anything like it before or since. Filmed as a documentary (though entirely fictional in content) it deals with the mysterious life of the shadowy title character, a man from the roaring twenties considered to be a chameleon and famous for his ability to blend into any characteristic around him. Mia Farrow appears as the psychiatrist who thoroughly examines Zelig in hypnotherapy in order to unravel the great mystery. The film’s most fascinating quality is the authentic recreation of the period, particularly the grainy black-and-white photography by Gordon Willis that was painstakingly degraded so as to look like it was stock footage abandoned in a vault for decades. Witty and clever, this film stands completely on its own in the master’s canon.