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Annie Hall by Woody Allen Analytical Essay

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Updated: May 8th, 2020


Annie Hall is a comedy that was directed by Woody Allen in the year 1977. The ninety three minutes film is done in English with the settings in Los Angeles, California and New York. The main characters in the Film are Woody Allen who plays the role of Alvy Singer and Diane Keaton who plays the role of Annie.

They play begins with the actor Alvy speaking directly to the camera as he makes a joke which conveys his negative opinion concerning life. He later starts to speak seriously about his relationship with Annie. In the film, Alvin and Annie are romantically involved in an affair which full of humorous events. The on set of their relationship is marked by incidents of sexual intimacy.

This is what makes their relationship problematic later on in the film and eventually leads to their separation (Shumway 159). The events of this affair since its on set, when they fall in love, the disagreements while in love and eventually the disintegration of the relationship are captured in the film.

There are both happy and tragic incidents in this love affair. In this interesting film, the character Alvy uses different styles like speaking to the camera directly as he speaks his thoughts aloud, at times he also interrupts people’s conversations as he tries to get their opinion on the ingredients of a happy marriage.

Annie Hall: A typical romantic comedy

Romantic comedies are the most common type of comedies. In this comedy, there are typically two lovers who are separated from each other yet they seem to be a perfect match for but end up coming back together after facing hard times away from each other (Simpson 1). This film can be categorized as a romantic comedy although it slightly deviates from the typical structure of a romantic comedy.

Comedies mostly deal with common people and their problems in everyday life and the probable solutions to these problems. For example, Annie is an uneducated young girl involved in a relationship with Alvy, who is a musician and more educated than her. There are also numerous other problems in their relationship that come up as the film unfolds.

The content of the plot of a romantic comedy is mostly love and problems related with love affairs. Separations from one’s lover, problems in winning a lover due to class differences or re union with a past lover are some of the possible love-related problems. In the film Annie Hall, such problems exist. Alvy has had two wives whom he has divorced and eventually gets into a relationship with Annie.

This relationship also does not last for long as they end up breaking up after a quarrel after being in the relationship for just one year. In a typical romantic comedy, the ending is usually a happy one because the lovers are mostly re united after a period of separation. According to Simpson, the separation mostly results from obstacles that the couple has to overcome but eventually they get married and live happily forever (1).

This film diverges slightly from this characteristic of a romantic comedy because Alvy and Annie do not end up this way. They are not married and they do not have a glamorous ending as expected in a typical romantic comedy. The film, however, meets the other characteristics of a romantic comedy because it is full of humor and romantic scenes. The relationship between Alvy and Annie is full of troubles and the disintegration is highly anticipated.

At first, they are portrayed as a perfect couple who are meant for each other but as the film progresses, their shortcomings are fully displayed until it becomes so easy to predict that the possible outcome of the relationship is a break up. They never seem to agree and Alvy is always having problems when dealing with women. This probably explains why he has had two failed marriages, and the relationship with Annie seems not to be functional any more.

The termination of their relationship and their re union at the end, although not as husband and wife is probably a message from the writer of the film that love is not always blissful. There comes moments when even the most glamorous love grows faint as in the case of Annie and Alvy.

Alvy is mentally disturbed after his break up with Annie and many times in the film; he tries to figure out where he could have gone wrong. He does this as he looks at the camera and tells of his break up with Annie.

He also tries to solicit for advice from an old man and a young couple on the constituents of a successful relationship or marriage. He recalls of his childhood memories and especially how he was not in a position to differentiate what was real and mere fantasy.

This background has also probably contributed to the current state of his disturbed mind as a grown up. He tries to handle even the most serious issues with simplicity and humor. He especially does so when dealing with issues in their relationship with Annie and most of the times he is seen as an escapist because he fails to solve the issues.

After much thought and asking from other people including strangers, he concludes that relationships are illogical and lack wisdom but are still necessary because of those occasional joyous times they bring to a person. He is simply showing the ridiculous but necessary nature of love and relationships.

Woody Allen’s basic premise in the story

In the film Annie Hall, Allen uses ordinary people as the characters who are not exaggerated but appear in their most natural form. He avoids having people belonging to high social class as the characters as is common with other comedies. The settings are also very simple.

The plot is made up of events that are common to everyone. By doing so, the writer is probably trying to depict the nature of life lived by the ordinary people.

The issues related with relationships and their positive and negative sides are depicted through the use of Alvin and Annie as the main characters. By highlighting the challenges facing relationships as the major theme, Allen is probably trying to show that this is the major challenge also facing the ordinary person.

Alvy has been married and divorced twice and his third relationship with Annie lasts for only one year and it seems like he is yet to find true love. Their two extremely different personality traits are shown during their trip to Los Angeles.

Annie enjoys being in the city but Alvy can not wait to be out of it and be back in New York (Carvill 1). Allen is trying to show how hard it can be to find true love. His attempt to win Annie back when they meet futile despite the fact that he has contributed significantly to Annie’s current success as a musician.

Annie is already in another relationship and frankly tells Alvy that they can never have a relationship again. The narrative style adopted by Allen seems at first glance not very organized as the plot keeps on moving from one point in time to another in flashback and recalling of childhood memories.

This is however possibly a technique he uses to show how at times our lives are full of events that do not seem to be well organized but still makes sense when viewed in relation with other occurrences. For example, Alvy’s psychological disturbance can be attributed to his childhood incidents whereby at times he was not able to distinguish between what was real and what was imaginary. The way Alvy and Annie relate depicts the nature of relationships and the different world views held by men and women in relationships.

Alvy’s lack of security in the relationship and negative view about life together with Annie’s worry about her little education contribute to the eventual downfall of their relationship. After their break up with Annie, he tries to find out why he has had numerous problems in all relationships with women. He has specifically had a problem with sex in all his marriages and probably this has led the marriages’ failure.

At one point, he tries to avoid having sex with his ex-wife Allison by talking about Kennedy’s assassination (Shumway 171). He even attempts to seek for a solution from unknown people by asking passers by questions about love, and they are willing to answer him on what they think makes a relationship successful (Conard, Skoble139).

He also tries to relate this problem with his past, for instance during the visit to the doctor together with his mother and the incident in class when he was found kissing a young girl. According to Conard and Skoble, the author is trying to show the temporary nature of love (140). He shows that love has a start, events that follow thereafter and finally love comes on an end. The initial bliss is not always there.

Allen: an auteur director

Allen can be referred to as an auteur director in the film Annie Hall. This is to mean that he satisfies most of the concepts of the auteur theory. In the auteur theory, the director of the film is very influential in the production of the film until it becomes right to refer to the director as the author (auteur) of that particular piece of work.

There is also a reflection of the director’s personal preference in terms of style in the work they are directing.

This is true for Woody Allen who is the director of this film. This is because Allen takes part in the film as the main character and in the process, he integrates his views and as the film progresses, he is able to communicate his thoughts, fears and real life experiences to the audience through the role he plays (Spark notes, pg 1). His philosophy of life is therefore clearly shown through the different roles he plays throughout the film.

A lot about his character is also learnt as he interacts with other characters and also as he speaks his thoughts directly to the camera.

Alvy can be seen as a true representative of Allen in this film. Carvill notes that, Alvy’s role and occupation in the film shows much of Allen’s real character and ideologies in life (1). His obsession with sex, death and New York City are some of the things that reflect Allen’s personality traits.

He is able to be in charge of the events in the film even though he is not responsible for the production of the film. Many times when Allen is involved in directing any film, he is usually fully in charge of everything that happens to the movie.

For example, he fully participates in directing, choice of the people to act the film and the place for the film is to take place. Allen is also in charge of other things related with the film production for example amending the work in preparation for publication and also promotion of the completed work to the public.

This role that he has played in the production of the film makes him get more credit than the rest they work with in the making of the film. It is also very common for an auteur director to have similar themes in different works they direct.


In the film, the theme of love is very well tackled through Alvy and Annie as the main characters. The short lived bliss and eventual fading of love is shown through this relationship that at first seems perfected but ends up in a break up instead of a marriage as is typical in many romantic comedies. The ending, however, is not very bad because Alvy and Annie end up meeting again, although not as lovers but as friends.

By the use of this relationship, the writer expresses the theme of how necessary and also weird love can be. By using the character Alvy, the author seems to be asking,’ why do men become so tired of the same women they promise to love forever?’ Through this, he is able to shows the absurdity of love.

Its necessity is shown by Alvy’s search for happiness in marriage by marrying two wives but eventually getting divorced. His attempt to resolve the mystery of his separation with Annie also shows that love is a necessary part of his life and he needs to address the issues that have made it impossible for him to be in steady relationships in the past.

Works Cited

Carvill, John. Sex and Politics in Annie Hall: Not Essentially a Political Comedy at All. Oomska, 2011. Web.

Conard, Mark & Skoble, Aeon. Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 2004. Web.

Shumway, David. . New York: NYU Press, 2003. Web.

Simpson, David. Comedy and Tragedy. Chicago: DePaul University, 1998. Web.

Spark notes. Themes, Motifs, and Symbols. Web.

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