Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Scene of the Week - Annie Hall

This is the introduction to what many people believe is Woody Allen's magnum opus, 'Annie Hall'. I could have picked so many standout scenes from this movie but in the end I settled on the superb and very original opening scene. 

In it Woody Allen's character breaks what is known as the "fourth wall" and engages the audience directly, blurring the line between fiction and reality. This is a technique most commonly associated with the theatre - often a soliloquy in which a spotlight appears on the actor as they bare their soul to the audience, giving an insight into their internal monologue. This is an incredibly powerful theatrical tool and I can think of many examples where it has been used to full effect in other movies - e.g. hilariously in 'Fight Club' (splicing pornography into children's movies) and disturbingly in Michael Haneke's incredibly original 'Funny Games' (the wink and the dead dog).   

The other amazing thing about this introduction is that within the space of about two minutes you already have a very accurate sense of him, a feat which some film makers can't ever really achieve in two hours. He tells you his character. This may sound trivial but only a very gifted comedic writer and actor could do this with any real sincerity and natural flair.

Woody Allen would be a fantastic topic for a future blog entry, he's an iconic director and one of the snappiest satirical comedians ever. Movies like 'Sleeper', 'Everything you wanted to know about sex*' and 'Manhattan' are all undeniable testaments to this. Anybody who ends a sex scene with "that's the most fun I've ever had without laughing" and "I'll never play the piano again" is obviously something a bit special and worth writing about.

1 comment:

  1. There are a few Allen films I like, but Woody is not my favourite comedian, often I think he's too whiny and annoying, though I do find the scene where they are waiting in line at the cinema to be very original and amusing from Annie Hall.

    Weren't laurel and hardy the pioneers of looking at the camera? sort of to get the audience to sympathise with their troubles, and get some more laughs, was sort of a trademark for particularly Oliver Hardy, don't know if that counts for the 4th wall you talk about?