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Agenda

DNR Filmclub | Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)

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Leonard Zelig, the 'human chameleon', is profiled in this mock-documentary by director Woody Allen, who plays as Zelig in scenes that purport to be vintage newsreel clips of the 1920s and 1930s, but are actually clever recreations, "aged" and scratched-up Citizen Kane-style. Zelig’s overwhelming desire for conformity is manifested in his ability to take on the facial and vocal characteristics of whomever he happens to be around at the moment. He shows up at batting practice with Babe Ruth, among William Randolph Hearst's guests as San Simeon, side by side with Pope Pius at the Vatican, and peering anxiously over the shoulder of Adolf Hitler at the Nuremberg Rally. The influence of the fictional Leonard Zelig on popular culture is discussed by such real-life notables as Susan Sontag, Irving Howe, Saul Bellow and Dr. Bruno Bettenheim.

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