About a month ago, BBC1 showed their two-part documentary on the multi-oscar winning director Woody Allen; as a film student, it felt like a great opportunity to restore my knowledge on an unforgettable figure in American cinema. For fellow film enthusiasts that missed it, here are a few reasons why I think those who are unfamiliar with his work should take note of the great Woody Allen.
1. He’s incredibly prolific: Since 1965, Allen has Directed (or at least acted in) at least one film more or less every year and continues to do so. When he’s not Directing, he’s acting or writing his next screenplay on the same typewriter that he bought in the early sixties. There are few Directors in the world that can match Allen’s work ethic, its as though the man has to be constantly working on a project.
2. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of film: It’s clear that Allen knows his stuff when it comes to all things movie related, particularly European films, because of the way in which he referenced or parodied those that he truly admired. Allen’s admiration of Ingmar Bergman is apparent in his fantastic existentialist comedy “Love and Death” where multiple nods to Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” can be seen.
3. He made ‘Annie Hall’: Allen Directed, co-wrote and co-starred in the 1977 comedy drama that garnered four oscars and five Baftas. Annie Hall is undoubtedly a classic; its a film that is incredibly funny and at times unbearably sad but nonetheless enjoyable simply because of great performances from both Allen and Diane Keaton. The breaking of the fourth wall alongside the fantastically authentic childhood scenes give the film its quirky personality that audiences have adored ever since its release.
4. He’s a fantastic comedian: Allen started his career as a standup comedian in New York, for which he achieved great success. His storytelling and largely self-deprecating humour is absolutely fantastic, particularly in his famous moose joke that you can watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmnLRVWgnXU .Allen didn’t much like doing standup as he felt very uncomfortable being in a position of such vulnerability, but luckily for us he went on to make some ridiculously funny films such as “What’s New Pussycat?” and “Play It Again Sam”.
One of the reasons why I enjoy my course so much is because I have the freedom and the resources to study and write about some of my moviemaking heroes. So If you’re not really aware of Woody Allen’s work, Annie Hall is a fantastic starting point. Watch it and I promise you’ll not be disappointed.