Blast From The Past: Annie Hall (1977)
As we continue in the realm of film in 1977, we cannot overlook the film that went on to win Best Picture at the 50th Academy Awards. Annie Hall was directed by Woody Allen and co-written by Allen and Marshall Brickman. It follows the character of Alvy Singer as he examines how his relationship went wrong with the delightful Annie Hall. Allen portrays the character of Alvy while Annie Hall is portrayed by the lovely Diane Keaton. The film was a success critically and scored a place in the top ten highest grossing films of that year. The film went on to also win Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Keaton’s performance.
As I mentioned earlier, the film begins with Alvy Singer (Allen) examining what went wrong in his relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton) a year ago. Although not told in order, we begin with some background information on Alvy and his childhood. From there, we soon find Alvy and Annie toward the end of their relationship. Alvy fusses about her being late to a movie, and she seems irritated by everything he says. There’s no longer a spark between the two, which leads to an analysis of how their relationship began. The audience soon finds that Annie and Alvy met during a tennis game with friends, and their relationship escalates from there. The film goes on to showcase the highs and lows of their relationship, their personal growth, and how it leads them to their eventual parting of ways.
So, while it might seem shameful to say it now, I had never seen Annie Hall before this week. With all of the psychoanalysis and details of their relationship revealed, I understand why it wasn’t a must-see as a kid or teenager. However, as an adult, I found myself enjoying this quirky film. It’s considered one of the most notable of Allen’s works, and it definitely showcases his style through the neurotic humor present throughout the film. It also has a unique style through its sequencing; nothing is in order, and Alvy breaks the fourth wall through his narration several times. It truly is a unique viewing experience, and while it lost my interest a couple of times, I was intrigued enough to finish it and enjoy it.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this film, though, are its two main characters. Alvy is a divorced, Jewish comedian who is in love with the city of New York just as much as he is with Annie. He constantly dwells on death and the purpose of life, which is quite the change from Annie’s character. She comes across as free-spirited, ditzy, and artistically inclined as we watch her sing at a night club. Their relationship seems ill-fated from the beginning in light of these vast differences, and yet Keaton and Allen have a wonderful chemistry that makes you want to root for the characters. In the midst of their journey, it might be Alvy that determines what the audience views, but it often appears that it is Annie who experiences great personal growth through the narrative.
Overall, I have to say that Annie Hall is a unique viewing experience. While Woody Allen has repeatedly insisted that this project is in no way autobiographical, one cannot help but appreciate the similarities between the character of Alvy and himself. The part of Annie was also specifically created for Keaton, and she plays it beautifully. There are lines of dialogue that will have you laughing out loud, and there are moments that will leave you shaking your head. I understand how this story went on to win so many awards, and I found it deserving of them all. I recommend you revisit this classic and appreciate it for the quirky, neurotic, non-sequential narrative that it is.