HomeGuideFive reasons to celebrate Annie Hall – Woody Allen’s bittersweet masterpiece turns...

Five reasons to celebrate Annie Hall – Woody Allen’s bittersweet masterpiece turns 40

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands, is a dead shark.” – Alvy Singer, Annie Hall

It would be an exaggeration to say that, 40 years ago, a dead shark was the proper metaphor for Woody Allen’s partnership to cinema. However clearly, regardless of the successes of inventive, sketch-like, punchline-driven comedies, such as Bananas (1971), Sleeper (1973) and Adore and Death (1975), Allen – then in his early 40s – felt prepared to tackle anything distinctive, anything deeper.

The outcome was Annie Hall, a essential and industrial hit, and winner of 4 Oscars like finest image. To this day, it is either his really finest film or one particular of the top rated couple of – based on your preference. It is stuffed with classic Allen one particular-liners, and, in the ‘cocaine sneeze’ scene, one particular of the all-time good visual gags.

But it also represented a sudden, supremely confident flexing of Allen’s directorial muscle tissues. This extremely private, moving, doomed enjoy affair signalled Allen’s new commitment to far more mature moviemaking.

However it practically all never ever occurred. Only with drastic recalibration did Allen, assisted by editor Ralph Rosenblum – whose book When the Shooting Stops gives a fascinating account of the course of action – transform an epic, sprawling project entitled Anhedonia (the inability to encounter pleasure) into the streamlined, groundbreaking Annie Hall.

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In the course of action, Allen redefined himself as a filmmaker – and changed the face of romantic comedy to boot.

Annie Hall (1977)

Right here are 5 causes to celebrate Woody Allen’s consummate “nervous romance”.

1. It broke the romcom guidelines (and the fourth wall)

As with a lot of film genres in the golden age of 1970s cinema, the romcom got a extended overdue makeover. Annie Hall rejected its attempted-and-tested feelgood fantasies for a spikier, far more grounded take on romantic enjoy. Annie and Alvy’s bittersweet parting blazed a trail for much less upbeat, far more unsettled endings, which are now pretty commonplace inside the genre – see My Ideal Friend’s Wedding (1997), Chasing Amy (1997) and (500) Days of Summer season (2009).

Annie Hall also reinvigorated the romcom stylistically, unleashing a dazzling array of innovations – achronological storytelling, split-screen scenes, believed-subtitles – to enable excavate the nitty-gritty feelings underneath idealised notions of romance. And, by frequently breaking the fourth wall (by straight addressing the audience) from the really very first scene, like the celebrated intervention of media theorist Marshall McLuhan to castigate a pontificating bore in a cinema queue, Allen added a layer of delightful, insightful self-awareness to the mix.

Annie Hall (1977)

two. It initiated a far more private style of filmmaking

Woody Allen had extended established his comic persona – a nebbish, neurotic, narcissistic, albeit really funny New Yorker – but right here he meant far more than ever to connect this to his personal private predilections. The film’s original notion was a stream-of-consciousness-sort encounter, largely set inside his personal thoughts (therefore the blithe to-camera asides), addressing his personal fears and fantasies. Allen even looked back at his personal Brooklyn upbringing and early household life, shooting in his personal childhood haunts.

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If Anhedonia’s extended interior monologue conceit is largely sidelined in Annie Hall’s final version, this very first-particular person point of view certainly is not. Allen drew straight from his and Diane Keaton’s personal romantic partnership and the obstacles they faced (their disparate backgrounds, personalities, ambitions) and, eventually, couldn’t overcome.

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Even though presumably enhanced by crackerjack gags, the willingness to delve deep inside his personal life experiences gave the film a newfound authenticity and depth that Allen continued to create.

Annie Hall (1977)

three. It inspired Woody Allen’s drive to create good female roles

Diane Keaton had co-starred in Allen’s two earlier films, Sleeper and Adore and Death, establishing herself as a deft comedian with a kooky sensibility and offbeat comic timing. But these roles had been largely foils for Allen’s protagonist. Annie Hall, nevertheless, tailored especially for her by Allen, is far far more substantial. It is not just Keaton’s distinctive style sense, passionate complexity or dreamy delivery (“La-di-da…”): Annie is so vivid, attractive and fascinating that Allen recut the film to concentrate on scenes featuring their partnership.

Annie Hall (1977)

For Allen himself it was a key breakthrough, providing him the self-assurance to create a roster of good female roles all through the rest of his profession. To date, actresses have received an impressive 13 Oscar nominations in his films, like six wins – beginning with Diane Keaton (maiden name: Hall) and her amazing efficiency right here.

four. It permitted Allen to experiment and locate his cinematic voice

The overriding lesson of Annie Hall?

Much less is far more.

Anhedonia’s very first reduce was two hours, 20 minutes extended and incorporated novel but distracting asides. These incorporated a spoof black-and-white sci-fi film, The Invasion of the Element, about a black household new to the neighbourhood, and even a Television show that talks back to viewers, which sounds suspiciously like a precursor for the cinema/auditorium interactions in 1985’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Ruthlessly paring away good comic material, Allen was encouraged to remain with the story’s most emotional arc, Alvy and Annie’s enjoy affair. Reshoots pushed the film additional in this path, and the poignant closing montage, reduce to the song ‘Seems like Old Times’, plus Allen’s final voiceover, had been late, improvised additions that beautifully chime with the film’s melancholy ending. These radical adjustments seemed inevitable for a film now reworked and – fortunately – retitled, with apt simplicity, Annie Hall.

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Annie Hall (1977)

five. It shaped Allen’s most profitable future films

Had Annie Hall not succeeded, it is difficult to picture Woody Allen taking as a lot of future dangers as he did. His really subsequent film, Interiors (1978), was a sombre, Bergman-esque drama. And these frequently regarded his finest – say, Manhattan (1979) or Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) – are exquisite blends of speedy-fire humour and slow-dawning horror of the emotional harm we inflict on ourselves and one particular one more.

Apart from, the shaggier version of what became Annie Hall didn’t all go to waste. The excised whodunit subplot became 1993’s Manhattan Murder Mystery.

As for Anhedonia’s original pitch, the “surrealistic and abstract adventures of a neurotic Jewish comedian reliving his highly flawed life and in the process satirising much of our culture”, nicely, switch “comedian” for “film director” and is not that fundamentally the synopsis for 1980’s Stardust Memories, the one particular exactly where aliens express a preference for Allen’s character’s “early, funny” films?


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