Sunday, September 25, 2011


In the fast moving Roaring 20s, one of its forgotten celebrities was Leonard Zelig, a human chameleon who would take on the appearance of anyone he was near near to. In this "documentary", we see Zelig's rise to fame and watch him fall in love with Dr. Eudora Fletcher, the determined psychiatrist who attempted to cure his condition. "Zelig" is a humorous and surprisingly touching concept film from Woody Allen. As a nod to "Citizen Kane" in what must have been an inspiration for "Forrest Gump", Allen employs the same 1920s fantasy used in "Midnight in Paris" as he inserts himself and Mia Farrow in grainy newsreel footage of the era. Gordon Willis's Oscar winning cinematography is beautiful and seamless, and its fascinating and sometimes very funny to see Allen interact with the likes of Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin, Bobby Jones, Pope Pius XI, and Hitler. Allen's scattershot humor indicative of his early films is also used to good effect here and it is also amusing hearing modern intellectuals such as Saul Bellows and Susan Sontag comment on Zelig's life. "Zelig" may be a funny concept stretched out to feature length, but it is still a fascinating and humorous experiment.