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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Zelig [Blu-ray]


(Woody Allen, 1983)


Also available in Arrow Academy's Woody Allen: Six Films - 1979-1985 [Blu-ray] which contains Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Zelig, and Broadway Danny Rose


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Orion Pictures

Video: Arrow Academy



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:19:08.994 

Disc Size: 28,365,079,429 bytes

Feature Size: 24,487,350,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.05 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Transparent Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 12th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



Trailer (0:47)





Description: Mockumentaries are ten a penny these days, but in 1983 Zelig offered something startlingly new, as heavyweight talking heads such as Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag discuss an entirely fictional character who is nonetheless strangely convincing.

Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) is a man so introverted and insecure that he has developed the ability to blend perfectly into the background of any given situation, regardless of the personality or even ethnicity of the people around him. But when he inadvertently becomes famous as the human chameleon after the media takes too keen an interest in his therapy sessions with Dr Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow), Zelig is faced with an unprecedented challenge: how do you fade into the background when the spotlight is firmly upon you?

Zelig isn't just hilarious but also an incredible technical accomplishment. Without any recourse to CGI techniques that had yet to be invented, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Gordon Willis inserts Zelig into actual 1920s and 30s footage so seamlessly that you re convinced that he s really interacting with the likes of Babe Ruth and Adolf Hitler.



The Film:

In this land of unlimited opportunity, a place where, to paraphrase Woody Allen, any man or woman can realize greatness as a patient or as a doctor, we have only one commercial American filmmaker who consistently speaks with his own voice. That is Woody Allen, gag writer, musician, humorist, philosopher, playwright, stand-up comic, film star, film writer and film director.

Though it runs a mere but delicious 84 minutes, ''Zelig,'' his new, remarkably self-assured comedy, is to his career what the 15 1/2-hour ''Berlin Alexanderplatz'' is to Rainer Werner Fassbinder's and the three-hour-plus ''Fanny and Alexander'' is to Ingmar Bergman's. This incongruity in running time may be a law of nature. Woody Allen is much shorter than Mr. Bergman and never has he tipped the scales to equal the heft Mr. Fassbinder was carrying around in the years before his death.

''Zelig'' is small but it's one of those Allen comedies by which all his other films will be compared. One can make associations between Woody Allen and Mr. Bergman and Mr. Fassbinder if only because it's understood that exceptional films by great filmmakers are never really comparable. When they are mentioned in the same breath, it's to suggest relative importance and ''Zelig'' is a Woody Allen masterpiece.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


Those who dismiss Woody Allen as a neurotic narcissist out of touch with reality need to confront 1983’s ‘Zelig’. Perhaps the most complex, unusual film in an already diverse CV, it remains his most culturally and politically aware work, its relevance increasing with each passing year. Allen stars as the titular ‘human chameleon’ who can alter his appearance to ‘become’ any man he encounters, and whose discovery prompts headlines, psychological studies and dance crazes. Flawlessly constructed by Allen and genius cinematographer Gordon Willis as a back-to-the-’30s mock-doc, the film misses no opportunity to pinpoint the resonances inherent in its idea: Zelig’s desire for conformity leads him first to the Catholic Church, then the Nazi Party. The comedy tends to the smirk-inducing rather than the laugh-out-loud, and the second half wanders somewhat, but ‘Zelig’ is a strong contender for Allen’s most fascinating film.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, Twilight Time have Zelig available on Region FREE Blu-ray HERE - and we expect the transfer to be very similar to Arrow's.


Zelig gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films in the UK.  It is dual-layered with a max'ed-out bitrate for the 1 hour 20-minute feature. The 1080P supports presentation that is interspersed with real vintage footage and 'mock' sequences with Allen (as Zelig) infused into the stills - or even live action! It is in the original 1.85:1 frame.  All flaws are an intentional representation. The contrast is superb. This Blu-ray looks excellent in-motion continuing to fully support the facade of the film's aged intent.
















Audio :

Arrow use an authentic linear PCM (24-bit). Dialogue is consistent and we can note a bit of depth in the music with a score credited to Dick Hyman (Mighty Aphrodite) with Leonard the Lizard, Doin' the Chameleon, Chameleon Days performed by Mae Questel, You May Be Six People, But I Love You and others plus real vintage stuff like I'm Sitting on Top of the World, Fats Waller's I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling, The Charleston City All Stars' I Love My Baby, My Baby Loves Me and others. It alls sounds very good in the uncompressed. Arrow also offers optional English (SDH) subtitles and their Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

The Arrow only has a trailer but their Woody Allen: Six Films - 1979-1985 Blu-ray package offers Manhattan (not available individually), on Blu-ray, and a hardback book featuring new and archive writing on all the films.



Arrow's Woody Allen: Six Films - 1979-1985 Blu-ray package certainly seems the more reasonably way to go with this inventive and engaging mockumentary. The package has with Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Zelig, and Broadway Danny Rose - and this one is very special showcasing what an incredibly creative talent we have in Woody Allen. This is another must-own for his fans. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 24th, 2016

Also available in Arrow Academy's Woody Allen: Six Films - 1979-1985 [Blu-ray] which contains Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Zelig, and Broadway Danny Rose


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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