In Russia, Boris Grushenko is in love with his pseudo-intellectual cousin Sonja, who loves him since he too is a pseudo-intellectual, but she is not in love with him. Instead she is in love with his brother Ivan. But as Ivan doesn't seem to return her affections, she is determined to marry someone - anyone - except Boris. If that person isn't the perfect husband, then she has to find a suitable lover in addition. Boris' pursuit of Sonja has to take a back seat in his life when he, a pacifist and coward, is forced to join the Russian Army to battle Napoleon's forces which have just invaded Austria. Despite Sonja not being in the picture while he's away at war, Boris' thoughts do not stray totally from women. Although they take these two divergent paths in their lives, those paths cross once again as they, together, both try to find the perfect spouse and lover, and try to assassinate Napoleon.Written by
When Boris asks Sonya to "guess who" when he places his hands over her eyes, she says that she would recognize those hands anywhere and says "Old Nehampkin". As Boris's cousin and someone who was familiar with old Nehampkin's hands, she should have realized that Old Nehampkin had died 25-30 years earlier in a lightning strike. See more »
How I got into this predicament I'll never know. Absolutely incredible. To be executed for a crime I never committed. Of course, isn't all mankind in the same boat? Isn't all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed? The difference is that all men go eventually, but I go six o'clock tomorrow morning. I was supposed to go at five o'clock but I have a smart lawyer. Got leniency.
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Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev is listed in the credits as "S. Prokofiev," just the way he would have been listed in the credits of a Russian film. See more »
The MGM DVD release deletes the pre-title Prokofiev overture. See more »
Fun satire on ¨War and peace¨ and other novels , being compellingly written , played and directed by Woody Allen
This movie is considered to be a spoof of Russian Novels . It is set in czarist Russia, 1812 , a neurotic Boris Grushenko (Woody Allen) wishes to marry his distant cousin (Diane Keaton) . Although both of whom take two divergent ways in their lives, those paths cross once again . When Napoleon threatens to invade the Russian Empire, the coward soldier is forced to enlist to save his natal nation . Later on , Boris and his lover cousin formulate a scheme to assassinate Napoleon (James Tolkan) . At the end he is detained and the condemned man reviews his past life .
Amusing picture fable is plenty of the filmmaker's signature angst-ridden philosophical comedy . Hilarity slips into vulgarity rather too often in this usually in-and-out early Woody Allen comedy which embroils the little man in Russia invaded by Napoleon . Like a Russian soldier , the gags and funny sketches fire off in all directions . There is a lot of spoofs and even Bergman's ¨The seventh seal¨ and ¨Persona¨ and jokes for moviegoers . As the movie featured the Death character of The Grim Reaper , Allen is known to be inspired and influenced by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman who had featured the Grim Reaper in his film The seventh seal (1957) ; in the Bergman film the Grim Reaper wears black robes whereas in this film he wears a white gown . The picture is ironical about major Russian novels particularly the works of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky . In fact , the movie title is a play on words of such Russian novel titles as Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" . Nice acting by Woody Allen at his best , as a condemned man who reviews the follies of his life . His comic style paid homage to a number of classic comedians which included Bob Hope , Charles Chaplin and The Marx Brothers . Intermittently hilarious , pre-Annie Hall Allen fare , it is is one of eight cinema movie collaborations of Woody Allen and actress Diane Keaton, Allen co-starring in six of them and directing seven of them . These are the followings : Play It Again Sam , Sleeper , Interiors , Manhattan , Radio Days , and Manhattan Murder Mystery . It is fun enough to make wish there were more of it and you will have to keep your eyes peeled to spot notorious secondaries as Jessica Harper , Harold Gould , Olga Georges Picot , Féodor Atkine , Gérard Buhr , Howard Vernon and James Tolkan as Napoleón and his double and about ¨fifty-four supporting players" .
Witty as well as classical musical score contributes much . At the beginning the soundtrack was taken from Igor Stravinsky music , but , subsequently , Woody Allen took Sergei Prokofiev's lighthearted score that worked far better . The movie's big battle sequence features Sergei Prokofiev's cantata music from Sergei M. Eisenstein's epic Alexánder Nevsky (1938). Colorful as well as evocative cinematography by Ghislain Cloquet , being shot on location in Hungary and Paris , France . Lavish and stunningly produced by Charles H. Joffe , Allen's ordinary producer . This enjoyable motion picture was vigorously directed by Woody Allen , being his sixth film as director and here to ridicule Russian novels such as "The Idiot", "The Gambler", "War and Peace", "Anna Karenina", "Crime and Punishment", and "The Brothers Karamazov". Woody Allen has said that this movie was "my funniest picture to that time".
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