© 1991 Orion Pictures Corporation

Shadows and Fog (1991)

I am continuing to go through the Woody Allen films I have only seen once or twice. Shadows and Fog was the first Allen film I saw in the theater when it was first released. It came out the same year as Steven Solderberg’s Kafka, with which it shares a visual style, although Soderberg shot in Prague and Allen was working on a studio set. The germ of the story is Allen’s play “Death”, which was written way back in 1975 and was a parody of  Eugene Ionesco’s play “The Killer.” The Allen play has Kafkaesque elements, but also goes for laughs now and then. Around this stage in his career, Allen was experimenting in mixing comedic and dramatic elements in the same film. Sometimes this works very well, as it does in the masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors, and sometimes it was less successful like in this film. While this is obviously meant to be a parable with no specific setting or period, seeing all of the American actors wandering around the German expressionistic sets is slightly disorienting. While Mia Farrow had some of the best roles of her career written by Allen, she does not fit her role her as well as she does in the other Allen films, and she is not so believable as a circus sword swallower. On the other hand, Allen is perfect in his own role, and the cinematography by Carlo Di Palma is wonderful.

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