Entertainment Magazine

Annie Hall and Alvy Singer Fumble Through Knowing Each Other

Posted on the 26 November 2015 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

What is I LOVE That Scene? It is a semi-regular feature on our website in which we detail one single film scene we adore. Typically, the scenes we discuss are those that force us to involuntarily exclaim “I LOVE That Scene!” when they are brought up in conversation, thus the name. It is our intention to turn readers onto films through exposure to single scenes. Spoilers will be clearly indicated.

THE FILM: Annie Hall (1977)

THE PLOT:

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Annie Hall tells the relatively simple story of an ultimately failed romantic relationship between Alvy Singer and Annie Hall. It’s told in flashback, with Singer (Woody Allen) speaking directly to the audience about his relationship with the delightfully quirky Annie Hall (played by Allen’s former girlfriend Diane Keaton). The film also gives scenes of Singer’s childhood complete with the adult-Singer interacting with his past and forays into wish fulfillment and fantasy life. If something is unfolding on screen, Singer cannot help but comment upon it. He lives to observe. In contrast, Hall is flighty, quirky, and less certain of who she is. She wants to be a singer, but she also drifts her way through college classes, trying to find her way.

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It may be difficult for contemporary audiences to understand what made Annie Hall seem so revelatory upon its 1977 release. It won Best Picture at the Oscars, beating out a little film called Star Wars, although even then it was one of the lowest grossing winners. It established Woody Allen as a real filmmaker, marking a transition from his “early, funny” films to his more serious work. Annie Hall may or may not be Woody Allen’s best film (although it’s indisputably near the top of that list), but it remains one of his most delightfully accessible. It’s sharp and intelligent and jam packed with high brow pop culture references few romantic comedies would even attempt today. After all, how many contemporary comedies would dare name-check Balzac, Fellini, and Marshall McLuhan? Centering a film around two neurotic characters may not feel as fresh now as it did in 1977 (& this character is a proto-type for the character Woody Allen would play in many of his later films), but the truthfulness and relatability of its central couple is comically, poignantly timeless.

(SPOILERS BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)

THE CONTEXT OF THE SCENE:

Singer and Hall have just met and Hall has driven him back to his apartment building. On the rooftop, they begin to converse, sounding sure of themselves. However, their interior monologues tell a very different story.

Check out the scene below:

WHY I LOVE IT:

Biases on the table: I love Woody Allen. I think he’s a great screenwriter, likable comic film presence, and has a remarkable strong track record. True, there are clunkers in his filmography, but for a man who makes one film a year, that’s to be expected. I think he understands that what makes characters interesting are their contradictions. Alvy Singer may be discussing intellectual pursuits, but his thoughts are shallow. Meanwhile, Annie Hall’s conversation seems less confident and less intelligent, but she’s thinking about Singer in far deeper terms than he is thinking about her.

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As the film progresses we come to see few characters are as intelligent or as delightfully endearing together as Alvy and Annie. The fact that Diane Keaton was once Allen’s real-life girlfriend and whose real last name is Hall adds an extra layer of poignancy to the film. It’s a relationship we know is doomed to fail.  Singer himself has told us so in the film’s opening scene, but seeing them here flirting, worrying, analyzing, it seems impossible to fathom how they could ever drift apart. it’s a lovely scene that presents the giddy uncertainty of the start of a potential new relationship that may last a lifetime or only one evening. However, for this moment, they feel completely in sync and the possibilities are endless.

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Annie Hall is available to purchase on a gorgeous blu-ray or DVD and available to stream through Nexflix.

So, what do you think, guys? Are you a fan of the film? Do you like this scene? Hate it? Think there’s another scene we should cover? Let us know in the comments!


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