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Woody Allen – Annie Hall

Category Culture
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Changes Woody Allen’s Annie Hall is a film that depicts the life of a character named Alvy Singer, a comedian who always seems nervous, is full of self-loathing, doesn‘t have a positive perspective on life, had an unhappy childhood and has been divorced twice. He knows he has problems but can’t figure out how to solve them in a dignified way so uses sex as a substitute. By the end of the film however, he shows a significant change in his outlook on life, due mostly to his recent relationship with a woman named Annie Hall.

They end their relationship but Alvy learns from it, makes changes in his life, and uses it as a stepping stone into his future. The first moment where he shows change is when he compliments Annie after her first performance at a night club. She thinks she did horribly so he gives her reasons why she wasn’t as bad as she thought which cheers her up. This signifies Alvy turning a bad situation into a good one and shows confidence for the first time. Another moment where he shows change is his meeting with Annie in Los Angeles after they have broken up for good.

He does things that he is usually reluctant to do: leaving New York City, driving a car, and eating at a health food restaurant. Although it doesn’t end like he hoped, he accepts that they aren’t going to be together any longer and doesn‘t complain, which is his usual response. In addition, he shows growth when he writes a play about his relationship with Annie, which shows their last meeting in L. A. but with an alternate ending with them together; proving that the relationship affected him enough to analyze and critique it.

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He views the relationship as a learning experience and uses the play to articulate his experience in a productive way, something he hasn’t done yet. Lastly, the ending of the film shows the most significant change from Alvy. He meets with Annie and seems genuinely happy to spend time with her and says he’s glad that he got to know her, contrary to his prior notion to have sex to solve his problems. Alvy’s first noticeable change occurs after Annie’s audition at the club.

It’s her first time and she thinks that her performance was awful because the audience wasn’t paying attention and there were distractions such as microphone feedback, dropping glass, and a ringing phone. After her performance, they’re walking down the street and he cheers her up by telling her that the crowd was “a tad restless” and that she has a “wonderful voice” (42). He usually saw things in a negative light before this moment and this was the first time in the film where he turned a bad situation into a better one.

This helped Annie continue her singing and she improved later because of Alvy and opened new doors for her, thanks to Alvy’s persuasion and change of view. He saw the possible relationship between them as something worthwhile and it ultimately led up to his transformation at the end of the movie. He makes her feel better--confident enough to brag, “Yeah, you know something? I never even took a lesson, either” (42). She accepts his support and Alvy realizes he would need to support her through rough times to keep the relationship rolling.

And it meant that he would have to adjust his views and habits to keep her happy. They both changed a little in this scene with both of them being more positive toward bleak situations and Alvy bringing benefits out of this situation. After this, he convinces her to kiss him saying that it will “digest their food better” (43). Maybe he said this joke just to have sex with Annie (which he does in a few scenes) and wouldn’t be much of a change. But he wanted to be in a long term relationship because he told Annie that he wouldn’t let her quit singing.

He foresaw that he could help her become a better person and maybe figure himself out along the way, reiterating that he was aware of his problems and wanted to change his ways. After they break up and Annie moves to Los Angeles, Alvy takes the initiative for the first time and flies to L. A. from New York City to try and convince her to marry him. He rents a car to see her and when he tells her this on the phone, she seems surprised causing Alvy to say “What-why is that such a miracle? ” (97).

He isn’t fond of California and despises driving so it’s obvious that he wants to be with Annie because he’s doing things he that he usually doesn’t and tries new things to get what he wants. Even Annie notices the change because she knows that Alvy doesn’t like driving. He fights to get back with Annie, a noteworthy change for a man who has been divorced twice and uses sex to relieve his problems. When Alvy arrives at a health food restaurant, he tells the waitress “I’m gonna . . . I’m gonna have the alfalfa sprouts and, uh, a plate of mashed yeast” (97). It’s a very dd combination, but his choice proves that he was willing to try new things to be with Annie. He figures that he has to make adjustments in his own life in order to better suit Annie’s way of life. But they immediately start bickering with Annie vehemently saying “Alvy, you’re incapable of enjoying life, you know that? I mean your life is New York City. You’re just this person. You’re like this island unto yourself” (98). Alvy then stutters on but doesn’t say anything coherent, her words hitting him like two tons of bricks, knowing that what she said was true.

He knows that his problems are unlike other people’s. He knows that he has to change his negative perspective on life if he ever wants to be with Annie or get into any other meaningful relationship. He knows that no one knows him like Annie. So he accepts her criticism for the first time and takes her words into consideration. He realizes he would have to stop living “self-consciously in his own world of illusion” (Conard 109). The play Alvy is directing about his rendezvous with Annie in Los Angeles indicates that he used their relationship to his advantage and now understands himself better.

He writes what really happens until he makes his character say “Okay, if that’s all that we’ve been through together means to you, I guess it’s better if we just said goodbye, once and for all! ” (102). Although it may seem immature of him to change the ending to end on his own terms, it proves that he knew that he could’ve acted better instead of arguing with Annie the entire time. That moment was monumental in his transformation and is still working it out in his head. He also changed the last scene to end in his favor with Annie saying “Wait! I’m-I’m gonna . . go with you” and “I love you”(102). This shows growth in Alvy because he is expressing his heartbreak in a healthy manner instead of feeling sorry for himself. Also, changing the ending suggests that he knows he can control his life now that he has a better perspective on it. In reality though, she told Alvy that she didn’t love him so he makes her say it to envision how he would have liked it to end, on his own terms and with his own decisions. After this scene he looks at the audience and says “ Tsch, whatta you want? It was my first play.

You know, you know how you’re always tryin’ t’ get things to come out perfect in art because, uh, it’s real difficult in life” (102). He knows that he’s changed but still has some work to do in order to get the ending he wants. His life isn’t perfect and uses the play to figure himself out and is still using that relationship to become a better person. He’s now able to reflect on his mistakes and turn them around to work for him. The final part of Alvy’s transformation is shown when he runs into Annie in New York and they go out for lunch.

After lunch, they “shake hands and kiss each other friendly like” (105). Their prior encounter ended in disarray and she wouldn’t have kissed him if she didn’t have a good time this time around. It can be interpreted that Alvy has changed for the better and Annie has noticed this change, causing the friendly kiss. He then exclaims “I realized what a terrific person she was and-and how much fun it was just knowing her” (105). She was the first woman that he came across that he actually appreciated rather than use for sex.

He’s glad that he got to know her because she helped him change his perspective on relationships from lust and sex to just having a partner who can make him better himself. It’s clear that he views relationships differently when he tells his last joke, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says ‘Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken. ’ And, uh, the doctor says, ‘Well, why don’t you turn him in? ’ And the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs. ’ Well, I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships. You know, they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd and . . but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us need the eggs. (105) He realizes that we all go through the tribulations of relationships because of what lies at the end of the road. It may be positive or negative and in Alvy’s case, it turned out that it made him a better person. He now knows how to handle a relationship and knows that it’s not all about him. After dealing with his problems, he learns that the aftermath can benefit him. Annie Hall may be a romantic comedy, but we can use it to help ourselves.

According to Michael Castrignano’s biography on Allen, he was divorced twice before the release of this movie, similar to Alvy. Alvy used to be a negative person who didn’t want to solve his problems but after a bad situation, turned his life around. He learned how to turn a negative into a positive, that he has to take the initiative, how to express himself instead of feeling sorry, and that relationships can’t be all about sex. Perhaps Allen used Alvy to help himself and we in turn can use Alvy as an example on how to deal with our problems.

We may not necessarily have the same types of problems but we can make turn a negative into a positive. He reflected on the whole situation and used it to change his views on life. We all go through bad times but if we change our perspectives on certain things, we can usually benefit from it. Works Cited Castrignano, Michael. “Biography for Woody Allen. ” IMDb. 2010. 25 March 2010 <http://www. imdb. com/name/nm0000095/bio> Conard, Mark T. , ed. , and Aeon J. Skoble, ed. Woody Allen and Philosophy: You Mean My Whole Fallacy is Wrong? Peru: Open Court, 2004. Four Films of Woody Allen. New York: Random House, 1982.

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