Zelig (1983)

Deep down inside we all want to be liked, to feel accepted as a part of a group, to fit in. Let's say you find yourself with a group of people talking about the latest box office hit. They express just how much they loved all the fast paced action and the graphics. You go on to agree with them and express how much you loved the graphics as well. Next day, you find yourself with another group of people discussing the same movie. Only this time, they are talking about just how terrible the movie was. "No substance, just big explosions," they say. You go on to agree with them and say how tired you are of these big hollywood movies with no real substance. More often then not, most of us tend to let the majority sway our opinions.
In "Zelig", Woody Allen takes the simple human desire of wanting to be liked to the extreme. Set during the 1920's, "Zelig" is a mock documentary examining a man named Leonard Zelig (played by Allen). His desire to be liked is so great that he develops a condition which allows him to transform himself into whoever he is talking to. Surround him with group of Chinese men, he'll start to develop oriental features. Surround him with group with black jazz musicians, he'll soon start to develop darker complexion and even play some jazz. You see the pattern.
Zelig soon gains national attention as the "Human Chameleon." Doctors take him into custody to study the strange phenomenon. Zelig surprises the doctors by transforming himself to blend in with any group of people he is presented with. Doctors see him as nothing but a study subject and his family sees him only as a chance to make a profit. Only Dr. Fletcher (played by Mia Farrow) develops a personal attachment to him and truly wants to help him fix his problem. Dr. Fletcher makes it her personal professional duty to diagnose and help treat Zelig. To cure him of his disorder. She teaches him to think and stand up for himself. In the process, the two develop strong feelings for each other.
Woody Allen has never been known for using technology or special effects in his films. But it is worth noting that "Zelig" is definitely his finest technical film. The footages, music, and the actors all looked like they belonged to the era. I really enjoyed the use of documentary style to film this movie. Using real people as actors also added that authentic documentary atmosphere. As always, there's plenty of quick funny one-liners spread throughout the movie. "Zelig" is an unique movie that really surprised me the first time I saw it simply because I haven't seen anything like it before. I urge you to check it out for yourself sometime and I give it my highest recommendation. Let me know what you think.

IMDB- 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-100%, Audience-86%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars


  1. A wonderful film. Woody Allen at his best is such a wonderful filmmaker!