Sunday, December 2, 2007

Love and Death

Love and Death; Comedy, USA, 1975; D: Woody Allen, S: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Georges Adet, Olga Georges-Picot, Harold Gould, Jessica Harper

Clouds. In 1812 the captured Russian Boris Grushenko tells the story of his life: he was born in a poor family full of fools, like the man who constantly carries a part of soil with him. He grew up a tall man, which is good since men shorter than 5'5 need to have the permission of the Tsar. When French troops attack Russia's territory, Boris gets send to war and as one of the rare survivors becomes a hero. After an affair, he enters a duel with the jealous husband and later on marries his cousin Sonja. When Napoleon strikes again, she persuades Boris to kill him, but he only kills his double. Boris gets executed and leaves with death.

"Love and Death" is the last simple and ground low comedy from the early phase of director and comedian Woody Allen that still doesn't have the demanding ambitions like his following film, the masterwork "Annie HaII", but it's still hilarious thanks to his tight rhythm. Here Allen ridicules Russian literature and maybe that's the reason why Diane Keaton got the name Sonja, the same from the prostitute from the novel "Crime and Punishment", but there are also many other references, among the most obvious are the ones about "War and Peace" when Napoleon's troops attack Russia's territory and the hero has to separate from his love and go to war, and also a few from "The Brothers Karamazov" and "The Idiot". Among the better gags is the one about a son who is older than his father, the meeting of all Russia's fools in Minsk or many funny, sharp dialogues ("When was the last time you slept with a woman?" - "2 years ago." - "I hope you can still remember how it goes." - "Well, I guess I will remember" or "Save your precious brutality for later"). The ending is a little bit sterile and unnecessary, but all in all the story is simply too quirky and too much fun to not enjoy it.


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