Love and Death (1975)
Blu-ray Company: Twilight Time
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Harold Gould, Alfred Lutter, Olga Georges-Picot, Jessica Harper, Tony Jay, Aubrey Morris.
Plot: In a script only Woody Allen could make, a soldier in Russia suffering from forms of mental disorder decides a plot to assassinate Napoleon.
My Review and Thoughts:
What can be said new or different, that has not already been said about Woody Allen and his ultimate genius of film making. Even in the past reviews I have done for other Twilight Time Blu-ray releases of this master genius of film, I have a had a hard time coming up with new stuff to say. Woody Allen is just one of those unique, mastery, gifted and iconic performers, directors and writers that are, few in number. Love and Death is one of those original Allen films that not only, did he write and direct, he also starred in it. Now this is a one of those films that is forgotten about in a lot of ways. Two years later Woody Allen and Diane Keaton would join together again, for in my opinion, one of the greatest comic films to date, and that’s Annie Hall.
In Love and Death, like Annie Hall, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, have such amazing chemistry together and create a believable character relationship. I think that is what is so genius about Woody Allen, is that his films are honest and down to earth, in most cases, or at least play on the emotional aspects of life, and a personal setting, no matter how far out there it is. Love and Death, like most of Woody Allen films of his early days, are a comical wonderment of pure laughs, and humorous moments that leave the viewer filled with giggles, and memories of those giggles, long after it's over.
One can battle amongst themselves, specifically movie buffs, cinema nerds, film gurus, on just what is the best Woody Allen film. He has done so many films that stand out. Yes some are misses and some are just plain, must see cinema. There is a battle between the realities of just what is the best comic film of Woody Allen’s earlier career. Love and Death battles it’s out with Annie Hall in my mind. Annie Hall has always been on my list of the greatest comical films, and also in my top 100 greatest American Films. Love and Death is one of those movies that has often battled it out in my movie loving mind on just where it belongs on the list of comical films or greatest films. I personal believe Love and Death is one of the great iconic films of Woody’s early directing. I don’t think it’s as good as Annie Hall, but its dam close.
When I heard that it was coming to Blu-ray, I was giddy like a school boy, when school let out for the summer? Twilight Time has released many of Allen’s films on their lovely Blu-rays and Love and Death goes right up there with the others. Love and Death is a film that only Woody Allen could do, and ace it with all its weird moments and comical genius.
Woody plays the character of Boris. A weird and almost trippy like character. A coward that surprisingly becomes the focus of attention as a war hero. Twist in the funny, odd reality of Boris becoming an assassin, and you can tell that only Woody Allen could make this film the way it is. Truly a one of a kind film, that is masterfully directed and most of all acted. Allen along with Keaton shine in all it’s simple, silly creativity.
Diane Keaton is another one of those persona's that needs no introduction. She has always graced cinema with a flawless example of just how a performance can shine, and the role of Sonja in Love and Death is no different. She has been a part of cinema for many years, and her talented ability to own her characters, and basically become them, shines in anything she does. I know that I speak a lot about certain actors and actresses who own their characters, but to me, that is the example of how good a performer they are. They are not just acting out a job, they have been paid for. The flawless actors and actress’ are those, who look at a part and own it. They breathe it, enter its soul and possess it; that is what Keaton does. Keaton is one of those performers that in my viewpoint goes up there with all the greats of the past and present. From starring in the greatest films like The Godfather series, to the many Woody Allen films, she is a goddess of performance. She deserves all the recognition she can get. Her ability to perform with Woody Allen is priceless in many of his films from Sleeper, to Annie Hall and many, many others, including Love and Death. She not only is an actress but also a director. She is a multi-talented person of cinema that is gorgeous to watch in anything she does.
Fans of Woody Allen's style of cinema will enjoy this movie. Love and Death goes up there as one of his personal best. It’s in reality a movie that never gets old. I have seen this film many times and is always a treat of laugh at. No matter how many times I see it, I love it, and it’s a priceless gem of cinema, no matter how many times you watch it, as a fan of Allen or as a cinema fan period.
Look out for some great, iconic persons involved in cinema in this film. The wonderful Tony Jay who most might not know as a name, or as a face, but might know him as his voice. He is a pivotal part of my childhood. He is best known for his ultimate voice work, giving life to many wonderful animated characters throughout his life. A voice actor like no other and is so wonderful to remember. He sadly passed away, but his legacy lives on. From being the voice of the Supreme Being in the 1981 Fantasy masterpiece film, Time Bandits, to being the wonderful voice of Shere Khan in the wonderful Disney animated series Talespin. Doing major voices for characters in all the great animated series of my childhood, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Skelton Warriors, Mighty Max, The Tick, Mighty Ducks, Reboot, and even small parts in Darkwing Duck, 2 Stupid Dogs, Aaahh Real Monsters, Gargoyles, Animaniacs, and many, many more. From acting in one of my favorite TV series of all time Twin Peaks. He was a true voice that shined in all of his amazing glory. It’s always a wonderful reality for me seeing him in Love and Death.
Also look out for Jessica Harper, another magical performer who has graced cinema in many of the wonderful films of cult status. From the one of a kind and amazing, twisted and weird and brilliant Brain De Palma’s Phantom of Paradise, to the iconic horror masterpiece 1977’s Dario Argento’s Suspiria, to the weird squeal to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment. She also is in one of my ultimate guilty pleasures of cinema, the very funny, forgotten and comical mastery, 1989’s Big Man on Campus ----lord I wish someone would release Big Man on Campus on Blu-ray or DVD----. She also acted in another Woody Allen film Stardust Memories. I feel she is another one of those performers that never got the chance to shine on screen. She is a wonderful performer that deserves and deserved so much more.
Look out for the wonderful actor James Tolkan. Been acting since the 60's and still going strong today. Another wonderful example of a character acting genius. Starring in some of the great films such as Serpico, Wolfen ----someone needs to release Wolfen on Blu-ray---- Iceman, WarGames, Back to the Future 1 and 2. Most people growing up in the 80’s will know him from the TV series Remington Steele, playing the character Norman Keyes. I think I will always remember him from the ultra-cheesy b-movie, 1987’s Masters of the Universe. He is always a fantastic character actor that shines in any part he plays, from small, to super small. He has a memorable face and a performance quality that makes you remember him. He plays the character of Napoleon in Love and Death, and he is wonderful as always.
Also on a side note I have to throw out there the performance by Alfred Lutter. He plays the young persona of Woody Allen’s character Boris. Lutter will most famously be known from his character of Ogilvie in 1976’s The Bad News Bears and 1977’s The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training. Also for all you horror fans out there keep an eye out for Aubrey Morris. Morris is a stable in the horror movie world being in such B-movie/Drive-in/Horror/Sci-fi classics like, 1965’s Blood Beast from Outer Space, 1971’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, 1973’s amazing The Wicker Man, 1985’s weird and unique Lifeforce, the utter cheesy guilty pleasure 1995’s Project Shadowchaser III, 1996’s bloody, corny, nudity induced, Bordello of Blood, 1998's b-movie Legend of the Mummy. He was also in one of the greatest films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s 1971’s masterpiece A Clockwork Orange.
There is a lot of wonderful character actors in Love and Death, just giving it another awesome reality.
Love and Death you can’t help but notice what Allen is doing in the film. There is really many moments that pay respect to the ultimate classic performers of the past that made way for comical genius such as Woody Allen. The Marx Brothers, Bob Hope and most of all the master talented Charlie Chaplin is paid respect to, in the style of Love and Death.
Lastly I have to talk about the cinematography. What can only be described as, out of this world? The impressive and almost ravishing quality of this cinematography, is mind blowing perfection. One, only has to look at, who is behind this cinematography, to fully understand why this picture is so gorgeous. If the term flawless was a person, it would be Ghislain Cloquet. For if you do not know who Cloquet is, then you might want to reconsider your viewing, and terms of cinema buff. Cloquet is the master behind so many pieces of cinema that is masterpiece worthy, and the very definition of excellence. From cinema greats like 1966’s Au Hasard Balthazar, 1967’s wonderful Mouchette. The great musical comedy 1967’s The Young Girls of Rochefort. The powerful drama, 1969’s A Gentle Woman. Roman Polanski’s 1979 classic, Tess. Most will know him from his documentaries. From working alongside Sacha Vierny on the one of a kind and high regarded achievement, in capturing the dehumanization and final solution, brought to fruition by the Nazi’s, the nightmarish brilliance, that is Night and Fog, which stands out, and always will, as being one of the greatest short documentary’s ever to be done. He also is behind another wonderful example of documentary brilliance, 1967’s Far from Vietnam. Anything he touched, he caught in perfection with the eye of what to do in filming memorable and amazing moments, and Love and Death is no different.
What is so interesting about Love and Death, is there is an ultimate artistic reality in the filming. There is almost an art-house approach, or even in a sense an avant-garde reality playing throughout, in key moments. It’s like a comical movie mixed with the ideas of experimental filmmaking. So many wonderful directors are played homage to in this movie, from the master Sergei Eisenstein, to the god of all things original cinema, Ingmar Bergman. Love and Death is a film that knew itself and became something so important to the art of film. Twilight Time thankfully has honored this important piece of cinema, with this amazing transfer to Blu-ray. This 3,000 Unit, special edition is a must own for Woody Allen fans, and lovers of cinema. They did a fantastic job in giving this film an outlet on Blu-ray.
1080p transfer in 1.85:1 is golden. Masterfully transferred. I saw no real flaw, what so ever. It’s crisp and beautiful. The colors are vibrant and the audio is something of ear perfection. I don't nitpick small things that don't matter, or that don't take away from the movie experience. I felt this was masterful. I say that a lot when reviewing these Twilight Time Blu-rays, but when a company knows what they’re doing, you can’t help but applaud them, for their mastery.
1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
You get the wonderful isolated music and effects. Nice to listen to and look at a film in a different way, by just hearing the music and effects. The one behind the music, is another master, not in film but music. Sergei Prokofiev. Sergei was a true composer of outstanding music. He died way too soon at the age of 61. He died way before this movie was even made or wrote. His music has been sampled and composed throughout cinema. He left an extraordinary career of music. One of those talents was supplying and composing worthy music that stands out and gives the directors many composed pieces to use for the soundtracks of their films. His music has been a part of many important pieces of cinema. His music was used by one of my all-time favorite directors, Pier Paolo Pasolini. Pier used the music in his masterpiece, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. The music of Sergei was used in the shocking controversial gem, 1979’s Caligula. Sergei wrote the famous music number, PETER AND THE WOLF, which has been used in many films and TV programs. His expertise and craft is unmistakable. From the many mainstream or lower set of movies, his talented music, has shined, and Love and Death, is another prime example, of his beauty, used inside of film.
Awesome little booklet by film Historian Julia Kirgo. Like I have always stated, a plus to these products is reading these booklets about the film.
Another flawless example of a product for an equally important film. The blu-ray is top notch quality that has no real flaw whatsoever. Another blu-ray, I highly recommend, and it should be owned by any true lover of cinema. Great product with an awesome transfer.
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