A small and insignificant bookkeeper, Kleinman, is awoken one night by his neighbors who wants his help to track down a strangler who has been killing people all over town. The citizens form vigilance committees, but when Kleinman has dressed, his neighbors have disappeared. Meanwhile a circus has come to town. Irmy and Paul are two of the artists. After a fight, Irmy leaves the circus in the middle of the night. Eventually she meets Kleinman, scared and alone. Written by
It's amusing to see people getting so upset at not "getting" a film others call great that they'll denigrate not only the film, but the people who made it and anyone who does like it. There seems to be a lot of that with Woody Allen. Stand-up comics aren't supposed to make great films. Fortunately, Woody doesn't care what people think he's "supposed" to do.
And make no mistake, "Shadows and Fog" is a great film. Not merely an homage to the German expressionists, it abounds in the philosophies Woody has discussed in all his films: god, love, death, sanity and craziness, honesty, cruelty, tyranny, humanity. The characters in this, one of the best of his screenplays, are all individuals, all facets of Woody's immense understanding of the common man. The scene in the brothel is stunning in its casual ordinariness. Kleinman (translation, "little man,") is all of us, in the shadow and fog of confusing times. Consider the line he delivers just before he blows pepper in the crowd's face: "I never did anything to deserve getting in trouble." The irony here is that much of the fascism that overtook Europe came because too many good people did nothing. The lesson was as significant when Woody made the film as during the time depicted, and just as significant today. A great film, 10/10.
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