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Zelig (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000037026
Added by: Mark Oates
Added on: 1/8/2002 09:24
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    Review of Zelig

    5 / 10


    This 1983 picture is one of, if not the cleverest movie of Woody Allen`s long and distinguished cinematic career. Made long before Forrest Gump and using more traditional special effects technology to achieve its effects, it is a mockumentary about the story of a human chameleon. Leonard Zelig is a non-entity, a grey little man who blends completely into the background by assuming the physical characteristics of the peer group he finds himself among. Thus, one minute he can be Chinese, the next black, then a Chicago-style gangster.

    The story is told in documentary style straight off "Horizon" or "Equinox" or the Discovery Channel, with interviews with people who "met" Zelig or the doctors who treated his condition, such as Dr Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow in the archive footage and Ellen Garrison as the contemporary interviewee).

    Special effects which extended the production to three years place Zelig within genuine 1930`s newsreel footage of celebrities as diverse as Josephine Baker and Adolf Hitler. As there was no way to "age" film mechanically, the effects team had to mishandle the film deliberately to get the footage of Woody Allen to match the archive footage he was to be inserted into.


    Made in monochrome and colour, the movie - presented in its original 1.85:1 - was nominated for Gordon Willis` cinematography and for costume design. As with all MGM`s Woody Allen releases, the transfer is excellent, allowing the viewer to fully appreciate the care taken in blending original newsreel footage with that of Woody Allen in his various guises.


    This is a no-frills release, and the soundtrack is no exception. The film is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo, as it would have been at the time of its original release.

    There are some lovely pastiches of 1930`s-style songs about Zelig - "Do the Chameleon", but as with most Woody Allen movies, the delights are usually in the dialogue.


    With the exception of the original theatrical trailer (1.85:1 anamorphic), and English hard-of-hearing subtitles, this is an extras-free release at Woody Allen`s insistence as with all his films.


    This is a fascinating premise for a movie, executed in a very believable way. If this movie had come with Discovery Channel titles, you`d have difficulty convincing yourself there wasn`t really a Leonard Zelig (apart from his amazing resemblance to Woody Allen.) For my money, one of Woody Allen`s best.

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