The fictional documentary was not yet that big in Hollywood when Woody Allen came out with “Zelig,” and critics were very impressed. The way in which the director, writer and actor like Leonard Zelig is pasted into old montages from the 1920s and 1930s is extremely impressive, as evidenced by the predigital era in which the film was made. The cinematography earned Gordon Willis his first Oscar nomination, but took so long that Allen was able to make two films (‘A Midsummer Night’s Comedy’ and ‘Broadway Danny Rose’) before ‘Zelig’ hit theaters. .
Almost the entire film consists of fake newsreels from the 1920s, but the script is so special that it hardly disturbs the film. Packed with the great dialogue and one-liners that have made Allen so famous, but paired with high-level visual effects, makeup and costumes, this makes for an unusual comedy, and one of Allen’s best. The refined comedy techniques as an actor, mixed with Mia Farrow’s obvious affection for the character and the person underneath complete the picture.
The man is often accused of making the same film over and over again, and admittedly, when you come up with a new work every year, repetition is inevitable, but Allen’s different cinema like ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’, ‘Interiors’,’ Match Point ‘and’ Zelig ‘also prove the contrary. The underlying message seems somewhat obvious, but this is also present in many of his films. Clearly, one of cinema’s greatest directors is at work. Here someone speaks with a clear voice and personality, ironically in a film about someone who just lacks that.