Irish Film Institute -ZELIG


Director: Woody Allen

79 minutes| U.S.A.| 1983| Colour/Black and White| 35mm

Zelig (Allen) is a human chameleon capable of emulating the appearance and speech of anybody he is with. As his biography unfolds, eminent witnesses like Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow interpret his celebrity as symbolising Jewish assimilation, human conformity, or the modern crisis of identity. The technique is as comically ambitious as the themes: a pseudo-documentary tour-de-force that matches fictional footage of Zelig with real-life luminaries like Hitler.

Allen: ‘I wanted to make a comment with the film on the specific danger of abandoning one’s own true self, in an effort to be liked, not to make trouble, to fit in, and where that leads one in life in every aspect and where that leads on a political level. It leads to utter conformity and utter submission to the will and requirements and needs of a strong personality.’

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