One of Woody Allen’s strangest films, this studio-bound fantasy turned his Kafkaesque one-act play Death (1975) into a full-blown homage to German Expressionist filmmakers like Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau and G.W. Pabst, brought to life by one of the starriest casts he ever assembled: Kathy Bates, John Cusack, Mia Farrow, Jodie Foster, Julie Kavner, Madonna, John Malkovich, Donald Pleasence and Lily Tomlin, plus Allen himself.
He plays the cowardly Kleinman, reluctantly recruited by a vigilante mob in search of a serial killer. When he finds himself involved with a troupe of circus performers whose sword-swallower Irmy (Farrow) and clown Paul (Malkovich) want to leave to start a family, Kleinman thinks that this is a welcome distraction – but the killer has other ideas...
Described by the New York Times as “a brazen, irrepressible original”, Shadows and Fog is the most visually and narratively unpredictable of Allen’s films. Carlo di Palma’s dazzling cinematography makes full use of the title elements, but it’s the richness of the multi-layered narrative, with its Shakespearean oscillation between burlesque comedy and poignant tragedy that really sticks in the mind.
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