(Review originally written at 12 January 2010)

"Zelig" is a fake documentary done by Woody Allen, which is set mostly in the '20's and '30's of the last century, about a man who is known as the human chameleon because he can transform himself psychically into every person that gets close to him. It's of course a real silly concept and it's also a quite quirky movie, though you can probably still believe this is something serious when you fall into it because it is done that well.

Because the fake documentary is set for most part in the '20's and '30's it also uses camera's and techniques from those days. I was really impressed with how the movie looked and at times I was really confused about whether I was watching some original stock footage back from those days or some newly shot footage done by Woody Allen and crew. It's definitely great that they used some of the actual techniques available at the time and did not just used some editing tricks to make the movie look old. It's also really great that the cinematography for this movie got actually nominated for an Acadamy Award, as was its costume design, which also really seemed to fit the time period it was trying to re-create.

They also did quite a great job with blending in the actors with some of the original stock-footage. We see Woody Allen for instance hanging around with Charlie Chaplin and even Adolf Hitler at one point. I remember it actually being a big thing back in 1994 when "Forrest Gump" came out and people being amazed by seeing Tom Hanks shaking hand with John F. Kennedy for instance but it just seems that those techniques were already available way back earlier.

Even though the movie is of course a comedy it got made as a straight and serious one. It makes the subtle humor work out all the more great. The movie does not attempt too hard to make you laugh out loud and is instead more constantly funny through some of its ridicules moments and witty dialog.

A great trick Allen also used was every now and then also putting in some 'modern' scenes with the elderly characters within this movie, reciting some of the events. It breaks the movie and I'm not sure if the movie would had been all that good to watch if it had entirely been done in '20's and '30's style, from start till finish.

It's one of those unusual and somewhat more experimental movies of which I say it works out well but at the same time I'm thinking what is the point of it all. Yes, I was surely entertained and also somewhat impressed but at the end I did not feel as if I had just seen a great movie. It's somewhat of a perfect in-between movie to watch and you'll surely have a good time watching it and it luckily also isn't too long. It's definitely not a must-see and a movie you can easily do without ever seeing but nevertheless you will still have a good time when you catch it on somewhere.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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