The greats of cinema: Woody Allen

A long and multifaceted career. Woody Allen is one of the great authors of American cinema. A long and multifaceted career, which has crossed the film genres to tell the contemporary bourgeois and his neuroses.

by Paolo Roggero

Withdrawal from the world of cinema announced and denied within a few days. On the eve of the filming of “Wasp 22”, Woody Allen fell into a misunderstanding that seems to be one of the classic gags of his comedies, especially those of the 80s and 90s, centered on his neurosis as a New Yorker, grappling with life daily and love affairs.

An interview with the Spanish periodical “La Vanguardia” was misrepresented due to an ambiguous response. It is a beautiful example of how much the character and the author Allen are actually superimposable, of how much, not so much the biography, but the personality of the director emerges in some of his works. Primarily comic author, Woody Allen arrives at the cinema from the side of the screenplay, then of the acting (after all, his “pieces” were often interpreted by himself on the radio and live) and later on the direction. The first film as a filmmaker “Get the money and run” is a mockumentary on the life of a thief, obviously declined with the tones of the absurd and a surreal comedy. The gimmick of the fake documentary will be one of his strong points, he will replicate in “The Dictator of the Free State of Bananas”, in “Zelig”, unanimously considered one of his most successful films, and “Accordi Disaccordi”.

“Me and Annie” and “Manhattan” are certainly the pinnacles of a filmography that, for better or for worse, marked the history of the seventh art. Allen’s cinema goes through different phases: surreal-demented comedy, sophisticated and existentialist comedy (with the interlude of the parody, with “Love and War” and “The sleepyhead”).

One of Allen’s most peculiar traits is his recognizability, the habit of reproposing a series of distinctive features: the opening and closing credits always the same, jazz music as a soundtrack (and it is significant that precisely with “Match Point” instead introduces opera arias), recurring themes, including psychoanalysis, the use of the voiceover, not to mention his “mask”, his haggard gaze behind his goggles (an element that with his seniority has always come less, replaced by a series of alter-ego actors).

The 80s and 90s see him still go on comedy devoted primarily to relationships and human relationships. He still intervenes in the first person as an actor, consolidating his mask.

Then in the 2000s, with “Match Point” there is a turning point. A dramatic film, which expresses a bitter and disenchanted vision of life, electing the case as the judge of human affairs. From here on, his cinema becomes more and more direct, with comedy returns, alternating with bourgeois stories and portraits of characters. Perhaps the last significant flash of genius comes with “Blue Jasmine”, a portrait of an incomparable female figure.

The rest is negligible, including a “Midnight in Paris” acclaimed by the public, but which proposes a series of clichés about the Parisian capital (an element that also binds it to the less loved “Vicky, Cristina Barcellona” and “From Rome To Love”) . Allen wanted to talk about European capitals as he had done with Manhattan, but he gets little more than the postcards of an elderly American tourist.

Read the other articles in the series:

Lorenzo Barberis – Try it again Allen

Giovanni Rizzi – Woody Allen: the trademark

Viter Luna – Allen, Freud and tennis: a match with psychoanalysis

The greats of cinema: Woody Allen – by Paolo Roggero