Woody AllenJerry Kupcinet - photographer, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


This article is part from The 10 best Woody Allen films

Table of contents


10 curiosities and facts

  1. "Zelig" is a mockumentary

    "Zelig" is a mockumentary-style film, in which Woody Allen plays a character named Leonard Zelig, who is able to transform his appearance to fit in with any social group.

  2. The film uses a mix of archival footage and new footage

    To create the illusion that Zelig was a real person, "Zelig" uses a mix of archival footage from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as new footage shot in a style that mimics the look of that era.

  3. The film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects

    "Zelig" won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, due to the seamless way in which the film integrated Allen's character into the archival footage.

  4. The film features interviews with real-life celebrities

    "Zelig" features interviews with real-life celebrities, who offer commentary on Zelig's story. These celebrities include Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag, and Bruno Bettelheim.

  5. The film explores themes of conformity and identity

    "Zelig" explores themes of conformity and identity, as Zelig struggles to find a sense of self amidst his constant transformations.

  6. The film's style was influenced by the work of Leni Riefenstahl

    The style of "Zelig" was influenced by the work of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, who is best known for her propaganda films for the Nazi regime.

  7. The film was a box office success

    "Zelig" was a box office success grossing over $11 million in the United States.

  8. The film was partially inspired by a true story

    The idea for "Zelig" was partially inspired by the story of a man named George Psalmanazar who claimed to be a native of Formosa (now known as Taiwan) and became famous in 18th-century Europe as a result.

  9. The film features a cameo by Mia Farrow

    "Zelig" features a brief cameo by Mia Farrow, who appears as a psychiatrist who treats Zelig.

  10. The film's soundtrack features music from the 1920s and 1930s

    The soundtrack for "Zelig" features music from the 1920s and 1930s including songs by Al Jolson, Rudy Vallee, and Duke Ellington.

About the movie

"Zelig" is a mockumentary-style comedy that tells the story of Leonard Zelig (played by Allen) a man who can change his appearance and personality to fit in with any group he encounters. The film uses a combination of archival footage and faux interviews to create a convincing historical document about Zelig's incredible abilities. The film's clever blend of fiction and reality, as well as its sharp satire of conformity and celebrity culture make it one of Allen's most inventive and memorable works.

"Zelig" is that it features real-life interviews with famous intellectuals and celebrities such as Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow, who discuss Zelig's condition as if it were a real phenomenon. The use of these interviews adds an extra layer of authenticity to the film's mockumentary style.

When "Zelig" premiered in 1983 it was praised by critics for its unique concept and execution. In my opinion "Zelig" is a must-see for anyone who appreciates Woody Allen's unique brand of humor and storytelling. The film's use of mockumentary-style footage and real-life interviews makes it feel both authentic and surreal at the same time. A masterpiece.


Film sheet

  • Director: Woody Allen
  • Year: 1983
  • Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow Garrett Brown, Mary Louise Wilson John Rothman, Marvin Chatinover
  • Awards: Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay

Film Reviews

  • "Zelig is an extraordinary film. It's funny, it's thoughtful and it's technically amazing. Woody Allen's script and direction are top-notch, and the performances from both Allen and Mia Farrow are excellent. This is a must-see movie for anyone who loves great cinema." - Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times
  • "Woody Allen has done it again with Zelig. The film is a marvel of special effects and inventive storytelling. It's a unique and entertaining look at history through the eyes of a man who wanted nothing more than to fit in. Allen's performance as Leonard Zelig is both hilarious and poignant." - Janet Maslin The New York Times
  • "Zelig is a clever and entertaining film that showcases Woody Allen's unique style of comedy. The mockumentary format works perfectly for the story, and the special effects used to create Zelig's chameleon-like abilities are truly impressive. Overall, this is a delightful and fun movie that will leave you smiling." - Leonard Maltin Entertainment Tonight
  • "Zelig is a witty and inventive comedy that showcases Woody Allen's unique style of humor. The use of historical footage and the blending of fact and fiction is both clever and entertaining. Allen's performance as the titular character is masterful, and the film's satire of conformity and the desire for acceptance is as relevant today as it was in 1983." - Gene Siskel Chicago Tribune