Woody Allen: Super Self-Critical Shakespeare of Film

By Anthony Melton

Woody Allen is the cinema equivalent of Shakespeare in my book. He’s not everybody’s taste, but I’d get my teeth into a whopping slice of Manhattan washed down with a good helping of Annie Hall any day.

There is a documentary doing the rounds at your local cinema aptly named “Woody Allen: A Documentary” (directed by Robert B. Weide) and if you’re a Woody fan like me I strongly urge you to catch it on the big screen as although the film was originally made for television there is something distinctly cinematic about watching Robert B. Weide’s amazing insights into the life and career of such a living master and bespectacled legend of film.

With over 40 films in the Woody Allen catalogue his diverse range is seemingly ever expanding, covering genres from Romantic Comedy to Science Fiction, Farce all rubber stamped with an unmistakably Woody script.

Out of those 40+ films there have definitely been some dark spots, but Woody Allen is writing and directing the films he wants to make in the pursuit of delivering (in his words) “One Truly Great Film”. Even if in the eyes of many critics he’s already made several great films (and several poor films) his hyper critical reflection of his own work pushes him forward and past both personal and media criticism to engage his next project with True Woody Allen intent and at age 77 he’s still going strong.

Whilst you might argue that if Woody perhaps slowed down and took a few years to develop one film instead of making one film every year he might get closer to his goal of achieving “One truly great film”, I personally feel that there’s more value watching his unfailing momentum continue to create a beautifully outrageous neurotic filmic anthology that no doubt at its close will be regarded as “truly great contribution” to film. Will Woody Allen see it that way?

Probably not, somehow I think that Woody Allen’s quest is one without an end as his search for filmic perfection is his work’s impetus and not truly his objective.

“I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

― Woody Allen, Annie Hall

Woody Allen’s amazing body of work is created from passion and commitment and inspires my creativity on many levels and if I could take one thing from his methodology it would be his unrelenting conviction to getting the job done, although I might leave some of the neuroses at the door, hmm maybe not.

woody collage