Zelig (1983)

This is a bit weird. Despite being a mockumentary, for some reason it very much felt like watching a a normal movie. I can’t put my finger on why that exactly is, after all, the presentation and structure is entirely build around it supposedly being a real documentary. It might be the restrained use of interviews, that had the effect, as most of the narration is done via faked news reels. But I can’t say for sure, like I said, it’s weird. I can get very OCD about these things sometimes, over thinking stuff. Anyway.

The idea of a human chameleon was without a doubt pretty cool, and Allen really got a lot of mileage out of it, exploring the psychological side of condition and how it relates to one’s identity. It also does give birth a lot of thoughts about the symbolism behind Zelig’s a condition, how it’s a coping mechanism to deal with alienation via the miraculous ability to perfectly mimic other people in the room in order to fit it. Of course it’s still very much a comedy despite raising much of interesting ideas about one’s own identity, and true to Woody Allen, it has twists and turns that are very out there and lead to absurd situations that are great for comedy. The best one at least in my opinion is how Zelig’s story eventually ties to Nazi party in Germany, and what complications that has. And then there was the entire bit about how his condition eventually resulted in a string of lawsuits when the darker side-effects from his condition are revealed to the public. Overall, it’s a very amusing little movie.


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