Love and Death
Set in 19th-century Russia, Allen is a cowardly serf drafted into the Napoleonic war, who would rather write poetry and obsess over his beautiful but pretentious cousin. Allen's cowardice serves him well when he hides in a cannon and is shot into a tent of French soldiers, making him a national hero. A hilarious parody of Russian literature, Love and Death is a must-see for fans of Allen's films.
The December Challenge: Film 8
I have something of a love/hate relationship with the films of Woody Allen, by which I mean that I love the vast majority of them but hate the fact that I can never decide which is my favourite. The last time I watched Love and Death I made the following claim;
”It’s not the funniest of Allen’s films (as I said earlier, there are some moments of pure gold but there is certainly some dross that hasn’t quite passed the test of time) but in terms of its creativity and the clear dedication and devotion that Allen had for it, it’s a fantastic film to watch.”
This is where I have a real problem…
I was pleasantly surprised at how hilarious this was, something I was not expecting at all. Its slapstick style was complimented incredibly by the over-use of sarcasm, an attack of clichés, and Woody Allen's typical deconstruction of love (and I guess of death, too). A clever parody of Russian literature, its references are easy to pick up, and the dialogue, one of Allen's most genius qualities, is exceptionally brilliant. The third collaboration between Allen and Diane Keaton, and their pairing before Allen's breakthrough Annie Hall, their chemistry is spot on, and it is through their leads that this film is so easily yet thoroughly enjoyable.
Woody's consistently improving comedic efforts culminate into a fine wine in LOVE AND DEATH; rich and sweet with intellectual humour that is still accessible, managed by an almost perfect blend between historic parody and pop culture references--it's funny in both a "ha-ha" way as well as "hey, that was clever". The direction, style, and pace are all on point. I still think ANNIE HALL is funnier than anything else Allen has made but in his early Bob Hope/Marx Brothers period, it really doesn't get better than this. You were right Schoales!
A film that manages to be both very smart and incredibly silly, Love and Death acts as an obvious bridge between the slapstick antics of Sleeper and the intellectual self-reflexivity of Annie Hall.
To paraphrase various job adverts I've seen recently, a vague knowledge of Russian literature would be beneficial but not essential, as it refers to the likes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin, and if you're familiar with their work then you'll smile at some of the references. Even if not, the gag ratio is very high, and for every pun that fell flat there was another one along within a few seconds to make me giggle.
Diane Keaton is excellent, and is given more to do here than…
I think this may be my favorite Woody Allen movie.
It's loaded with film references, from the Marx brothers to Bergman to Monty Python. It's hysterical historical caper brimming with wonderful one liners and observations and arguments - the philosophical argument between Keaton and Allen near the beginning had me bawling with laughter.
It's completely goofy and ridiculous and I just love Woody Allen's views on life and death and religion: "If there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. I think that the worst thing you could say about him is that he's an underachiever."
“To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”
One of Woody Allen's funniest movies, which marked the period where he started to make the transition from his over-the-top fluff comedies [or as he would say in Stardust Memories - his “funny pictures”], to more mature content for a higher-thinking audience. Here he blends intellectualism and humour seamlessly;…
Occasionally very funny, this seems to represent Woody's transition from slapstick to clever one liners and philosophical musings. Not all of it works but a mostly enjoyable film.
early woody allen is an inspiration
The end of the first part of Allen's directorial career.
A transition film between the slapstick early work and the psycho-philosophico-narcissistic period of classic Woody Allen. The period setting is essentially deployed to justify clever quips mined from Russian literature, and much of the joke set-ups are still contrived and self-aware but there are more serious undertones running beneath the silliness.
The first Woody Allen film I enjoy. Somewhat.
Wheat! A tremendous amount of wheat!
One of the funniest and silliest movies ever made. Endlessly quotable.
If I had a Top 5 Comedies this would definitely be in it.
This the last of Allen's notorious "early funny ones" certainly isn't better than Sleeper, but it is about as good. Allen takes on Russian literature in this one, moving far away from his comfort zone of New York, even if he himself is still (thankfully) playing his usual character. Lots of visual and verbal humour throughout, even if the film itself is very haphazard.
This is my first Woody Allen movie and hmm, well, I loved it! It´s funny, different, philosophic and well thought off. I must say this one is a nice introduction to the work of Woody Allen, and I willing to watch other works as well. Love and Death was really good, got to watch this one again when I´m out of this world..., If you know what I mean.
One of the early, funny ones.
Viele der frühen Woody Allen-Filme sind sehr albern und slapstickhaft, so auch dieser. Weniger eine wirkliche Geschichte als eine Aneinanderreihung von Sketchen ist "Love and Death" trotzdem sehr unterhaltsam und lustig, springt in absurder Geschwindigkeit von physischem Humor zu Dostojewski und Spinoza-Zitaten und nutzt keine Sekunde ungenutzt für fantastische Dialoge. Sicher nicht vergleichbar mit späteren Werken, aber auf seine Weise empfehlenswert.