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 leaves for the army, he is shown carrying preserved butterflies and a butterfly net as homage to Russian-born author Vladimir Nabokov. See more »
During the boot camp "training montage" Boris's uniform changes between one with black cuffs and collar and one with red cuffs and collar. 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 »
Woody at his historical, or should that be, hysterical best!
For me Love & Death and Sleeper were Allen's zenith for slapstick, one-liner comic-gag comedy. After the relatively immature but amusing Bananas & Everything You always Wanted To Know About Sex, Allen goes up a notch in the intellectual comedy stakes to produce this fine send-up of Russian culture & historical caricature.
Even though some of the one-liner jokes don't always come off it doesn't matter because you never really get chance to think too much about how droll it is because Allen has another half dozen gags waiting in the wings.
But I've often found that Allen works best when he has a foil for his anarchic humour: and thank the Lord he managed to find the wonderful talent of Ms Keaton. She may not be his intellectual equal but she can run him to ground in nearly everything else. She has a kind of naive charm in this movie, always daydreaming, never really listening to Allen's mutterings & jabberings. And with this naivity brings warmth, humility and a general sense of well being.
At the same time Allen can release all his pentup emotions, fears, neo-neurosis to Keaton knowing full well that she wouldn't have a single notion as to what he was on about.
And thats what makes this partnership so durable whether it be here in Love & Death, or Sleeper, Annie Hall or Manhattan Murder Mystery. The scripts may vary but they're held together by the spontaneity of the two stars.
It should be said also that Love & Death breaks new ground for Allen, because even though he still relies on the childish humour of his earlier films, it is also quite clear that he is more forthcoming with his angst against a problematic world. His philosophic nuances dominate a lot of the film, which he will put to more practical use in his latter films like Annie Hall & Manhattan. But here he gets the mix between jokes & existentualism just right.
Love & Death is quite literally a laugh a minute. Whatever people may say about his recent personal problems it cannot be denied that this guy is a pure talent and should be cherished for what he is - a man that makes the world a happier place, if only for a few hours!
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