Hannah and her Sisters was the last of the movies made by Woody Allen which is the last in a fine run. It shows with great expertise the ongoing shifts in relationships over the space of a single year.
As with some of his other movies, this one is set in the upper-class area of Manhattan and concentrates the lives of three sisters played by Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest. The story also focuses on the partners of sisters 2 and 3 played by Michael Caine and Max von sydow and the 1st sister's ex-husband played by Woody Allen. There are a few other friends and colleagues mixed in but essentially these are the main characters of the film.
Woody Allen himself is not one of the major forces for once in this movie, preferring instead to take more of a back seat and let others drive the story forward. One of the things I really enjoyed about the film was the way in which the canvas of life if you will is unfolded with the loves and relationships of the three sisters under the spotlight. There is the usual rollercoaster of emotions as we go along and underneath all the jokes there is a real feeling at times of the pain suffered by most of the central characters.
However, this movie does make you feel good as there is nothing dark or sinister going on, just three sisters living their separate lives and making life just about worth living. The feelings in the movie are very heaftfelt and not forced like on occassion in some of his earlier films. Woody Allen is his normal, neurotic, hypochondriac type of character but he gives a lot more emphasic on the outside world and it's goings on rather than just isolated to just the limited world of the movie's core.
Hannah and Her sisters is surely one of the most well known movies of Woody Allen. It is also, according to some, one of his best movies.
I am very partial to Woody and I would not be able to say which one is "the best". However, if you have never watched a movie of Woody Allen, this is probably one of the few you may want to start with.
Originally shot and released in 1986 the movie revolves around 3 sisters, Hannah, Lee and Holly.
Mia Farrow, at that time Woody's partner plays Hannah. The plot develops around Thanksgiving day, when the 3 sister meet, and it is just an occasion to show some of the hypocrisies of their lifes. Woody stars as Mickey, and most of the funny moments come with him as the main character. He is the former husband of Hannah, and he plays a role which we will see again in Allen's movie, that of a television producer. Woody's performance and character are essential to giving this film a lighter tone than other movies of Woody Allen. Some may say that the character is exagerated. Surely the dimension of existentialsism, although "a la Woody Allen" is present in this character. His quest for the sense of life and more importantly his doubts, about his past (he plays the part of a Jewish person, Woody himself is Jewish) and exploits many of the basic uncertanties of human condition, but also some of those more embedded with the Jewish culture. The theme of religion is one of the topics Woody treats on a regular basis in his works. In this movie we also have a view of the Hare Khrishna movement. At the same time, all these topics and ultimately, hydiosyncrasies, are and were typical of a certain society in New York and I believe that nobody like Woody Allen has done a bigger job at portraying them.
Like in other movies of Woody Allen, the photography plays an important role. Some of the shots of New York city in this movie are of a sheer beauty and add an extra dimension to it.
The acting of the actors is also great, in itself the plot requires some effort to be followed, but even if you loose the thread, or, literally, the plot, you will find yourself glued by the performance of the actors. Michael Caine, who plays Hannah's husband, won an Oscar on the same year, for his performance.
The movie can be found on DVD at few retailers for less than 5 Pounds these days.I still have it on VHS.
I recommend it to everyone.
One of Woody Allen's best films, certainly of the 80's if not of all. A great ensemble piece with great acting from all concerned.
Hannah (Mia Farrow) is married to Michael Caine, her sisters played by Barbara Heshey and Diane Weist are both very different to the straight laced Farrow. The plot follws the sisters as their lives cross and inetrmingle with an array of different men and family members.
The cast are excellent. Michael Caine shows that when he's given a decent script can turn in a great performance, in fact he won best supporting actor for this part. Diane Weist was also brilliant as the aloof sister who flits between men and jobs throughout the film.
Woody Allen, unsurprisingly playing a hypochondriac sketch show writer is great as he too tries to come to turns with the meaning of life, before switching from being a Jew, to Roman Catholic, to Hare Krishna.
Also very good was the reclusive artist boyfriend of other sister Lee, played by Max Von Sydow.
A great film all round from a great writer and director.
Hannah and Her Sisters is one of the most ambitious films in the long career of director Woody Allen. It was first released in 1986 and has the longest running time of any Allen picture. The film interweaves between the lives and relationships of several characters in a large upscale New York family and features an amazing ensemble cast. Central to this of course are the seemingly perfect Hannah (played by Mia Farrow) and her two sisters Holly (Dianne Wiest) and Lee (Barbara Hershey). Hannah is a retired actress married to wealthy Elliot, wonderfully played by Michael Caine. Elliot is secretly infatuated with Hannah's sister Lee who is already in a relationship with a morose and reclusive artist/painter called Frederick, played by Max Von Sydow. Meanwhile, Hannah's other sister, artistic misfit Holly, eventually becomes involved with Hannah's ex-husband Mickey, a hypochondriac television producer played by Woody Allen...
Despite the interior monologues, chapter titles and nod to 'Fanny and Alexander' (Like Fanny and Alexander, Hannah and Her Sisters begins and ends with a festive family gathering) Hannah and Her Sisters is not Woody in his ultra serious mode. If the 'early funny ones' (Sleeper, Bananas, Take the Money and Run) constitute 'comedy Woody' and the likes of Interiors, Another Woman and September 'serious Woody' then Hannah and Her Sisters is a return to the 'inbetween Woody', a film with serious themes and dramatic elements but with a big dose of Woody's gift for comedy. Hannah and Her Sisters was unsuprisingly Allen's most succesful film since Annie Hall and an elegant (if slightly rambling) and stylish visit to 'Woody Allen's New York', infused with terrific one-liners and funny set-pieces. The tone is lighter than even a film like 'Manhattan' for example although Allen does explore the rivalry, tensions and secrets that can exist within a family. And as usual Allen goes out of his way to make the city of New York look stunning, especially in Autumnal shades under overcast skies with beautiful photography by Carlo Di Palma.
The two major story strands that stick out for me and are most enjoyable are Elliot's pursuit of Lee and Mickey's battle to resolve his growing suspicion that life is pointless. Michael Caine gives a tremendous performance as Elliot, a respected, wealthy and stable man who suddenly has a bit of a mid-life crisis. There is a great scene where he waits on a street corner for Lee to leave her house and then literally runs around several streets and corners to make it look like he's just bumped into her by coincidence. Caine does tap into the nervous Woody persona a bit but his accent stops it becoming an impersonation unlike Kenneth Brannagh's unbearable and pointless Allen impression in 'Celebrity'. Mickey's existential crisis is triggered when the Hospital gives him the all clear after a brain scan. Despite the good news he becomes obsessed with death and the pointlessness of life. "How the hell do I know why there were Nazis?" replies his father when Mickey touches on the subject of evil in the world and God. "I don't know how the can opener works!"
Allen has some funny scenes in the film as he investigates different religions (including Hare Krishnas) and attempts to commit suicide in typically clumsy Woody fashion. He remembers a terrible night out he once endured with Hannah's sister Holly. This is probably my favourite scene in the film. Holly takes Mickey to see a punk band and Allen's face is a picture as he sits listening to them. Asked if he's enjoying the show he replies that he's worried that the band might start taking hostages when they finish playing! Mickey then takes Holly to a swanky Jazz club and she makes no secret of the fact that she's bored, dipping into her bag for hits of cocaine. "I had a great evening," says Mickey as they part. "It was like the Nuremberg Trials."
Dianne Wiest is one of the best American screen actresses on her day and she's excellent as the unfocused and disorganised Holly. Holly drifts from job to job never quite working out what she wants to do and borrows money from Hannah. Barbara Hershey is also terrific in the film and there is a great scene where the three sisters have lunch and Allen pans the camera in circles around them so we catch glimpses of their mood and expressions as tensions simmer gently below the surface and bubble to the surface. Mia Farrow also does well as Hannah. Hannah comes across at the start of the film as Miss Perfect but she gradually reveals vulnerable qualities as the film progresses.
The 'slice of life' structure was taken on to far more complex levels in films like Short Cuts and Magnolia but it does give Hannah and Her Sisters an ambitious and interesting form. I do think the film is a trifle overrated when judged agaisnt its high position amongst Allen fans. Personally I slightly prefer Crimes and Misdemenours and Broadway Danny Rose from this Allen era. The large ensemble cast inevitably means that a few characters and storylines get forgotten or dropped. As usual Allen tinkered with the film a lot in the transition from script to screen and he doesn't quite tie everything up in the finished product. On the whole though I think audiences in general found Hannah and Her Sisters, with its touches of warmth and comedy, more accessible than the likes of Stardust Memories and Zelig.
Of course the greatest thing Hannah and Her Sisters has going for it is its cast. Allen allows himself to be funny again and the female leads are all great. Max Von Sydow is all gloomy seriousness as he rails agaisnt modern culture ("If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.") and becomes highly offended at the thought of a rock star played by Daniel Stern owning some of his paintings. Sam Waterston and Tony Roberts also have welcome cameos.
So overall, while not quite in my very top tier of favourite Woody films, Hannah and Her Sisters is still a stylish and enjoyable experience and offers much to enjoy. A must for Woody Allen fans and one of his most popular films with general audiences.
You'll only get a basic package with this because Woody Allen has no interest whatsoever in DVD extras.
Hello and welcome to my review of Hannah and her Sisters on DVD. If someone asked me name to Woody Allen's single best film I would seriously struggle to give an answer to that question. The reason why is simple.... there are so many to choose from; Sleeper, Bananas, Radio Days, Matchpoint, Annie Hall, or even Manhattan, which seems to be part of a city that the majority of Allen's stories take place, and in the case of Hannah and Her Sisters that's not a bad thing at all.
Hannah and Her Sisters was originally released in 1986 and tells the story of three sisters, who when the film begins we join them at the American celebration time of Thanksgiving, it is here at the Thanksgiving Dinner that we find out that the family that the sisters belong to have a few problems that need to be addressed.
The title of the film refers to three leading characters, Hannah, Lee and Holly. Lee is married to Frederick who is a painter but feels tormented with what he has to offer her throughout life in general. Holly has aspirations of becoming something and although unsure what, she is not in the slightly bit bothered as to what she becomes. Out of the three Hannah has achieved the most, she has worked to become a famous actress who has loving children and a wonderful husband, and leads what can only be described as a perfect life with total fulfilment. As Hannah is the oldest she is also the foundation and the one thing that helps keep the family together and is the one person that both Lee and Holly turn to in times of need, as in the case with large families it is always the oldest sibling that has to sort things out.
When circumstances lead to Hannah's perfect life being shattered this further leads her to conclude that she does not know what as a family member her role is anymore as everything has literally turned upside down. To retrieve back what she has lost means to take a journey of self discovery and make some decisions that could have repercussions in the family for years to come. She has to decide whether to take these opportunities for herself or reject them for the sake of her family.
Michael Caine.................................... Elliott
Carrie Fisher .....................................April
Max Von Sydow..................................Frederick
Woody Allen.......................................Mickey Sachs
With Thanksgiving as a central focus of the story, this is where all the characters meet. This story follows the three sisters through there various twists and turns of life, it also shows what pressures each sister is up against and how issues are dealt with, either in the right or in some cases in the story the wrong way.
To be honest the story begins at a snails pace but as the story unfolds which does get complicated at times based upon the various twist and turns that take place in the story it does gather quite a nice pace. For example affairs taking place with another sister's husband is tackled with a good mix of comedy included, not only to break down the heaviness of the situation but also show it in a different perspective entirely to where the viewer could and expect and imagine it going.. One thing that I will admit to laughing to was when the character of Mickey played by Woody Allen is searching for religious inspiration, and although he is Jewish he comes back to the house with objects relating to Catholicism. He's obtained the usual objects such as a Bible and a cross as well as a product called Wonderbread and jar of Mayo! It is the way that this scene is delivered that makes it funny and although in some cases it would be considered non-PC, it is definitely one of the sub-plots that only a person like Woody Allen could ever think of committing to screen.
For as many comedy scenes as there are in the film, they are nicely balanced by scenes showing a high level of emotion. One thing that I noticed was that they do get to you as well as this was where my barriers broke, and yes I had a few tears rolling down my cheek in various parts of the film. I cannot say whether it was from a personal experience or what, but one scene in particular where two characters are saying there farewells for the final time was heart wrenching, and it is not often I sob at scenes like this, but this got me and it got to me unexpectedly as well. Personally I think that is a great compliment to the Writers, Producers and Directors of the film, who just happen to be one Woody Allen.
What I liked about the film and the fact that I found refreshing was that it was made before there was any requirement to have any sort of CGI or picture manipulation, effectively what you see is what you get with this film. That is the cast giving high quality sound performances, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Diane Weist and Barbara Hershey give an outstanding performance in this piece. Not forgetting Carrie Fisher in only her second film after the first Star Wars Trilogy was completed.
Although this is billed as a comedy, I found it to be more drama based with a few very good strategically placed touches of comedy. It is little things in the film that really lift when the pace slows down and brings back into the film to stop you from when you start to drift away. Looking back the comedy is utilised in a similar fashion to that of a commercial break on channels such as ITV, they are just in the right places at the correct time.
For a film that was shot well before 9/11, the film is beautifully photographed with what can only be described as postcard shots that really show off New York and the surrounding area to its finest. This really impressed me as I already knew Allen highly regards the City of New York anyway, but in a film like this it really does show off Allen's trademark signature to a tee. In the manner that the shots of the City are captured it not only looks beautiful but is also striking and adds a breather when necessary to the story. DVD only enhances this further and makes these look sharper and therefore even more striking and pleasurable to look at.
In a number of scenes the camera never moves and there are no shots cut in, it is just the actors acting. This not only helps to build and maintain the atmosphere of the scene but also makes yours eyes wander around the screen for example hand movements, expressions, etc seem to stand out more as they can easily be noticed and give more away without cutting to another shot and losing the built up on screen tension.
I don't consider myself to be a film buff at all when it comes to the works of Woody Allen, but this was one of the first Woody Allen films I saw and immediately fell for it. Bear in mind that before this I had only seen Allen in the 1967 version of Casino Royale. This film is obviously completely different from the start and shows a full range of emotions throughout, some high, some very high, others much lower. From personal experience I know it is what larger families go through and the fact that this can be deemed a film based on reality for me is the difference between saying that this is a good film or that this is a great film. For me this is a great film and one not necessarily for the chicks with a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine either.
At the Oscars that year the acting was rewarded for this film as Michael Caine won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The film also won another two for Dianne Wiest in Best Supporting Actress and Woody Allen for Best Screenplay.
Runtime is 103 minutes and is a 15 certificate. There were a few surprises for me when I saw this film as Julie Kavner who voices numerous characters from TV's The Simpson's appears in this film along with an early appearance from John Turturro, AND I THOUGH Julie Kavner actually put on the voices in The Simpsons. Didnt realise that she actually spoke like that in real life!!
As this could be considered part of the budget range of films you don't get much in the way of Extras, although the Menu's are Interactive and you get Chapter Selection which really kind of standard across the board nowadays anyway, the only real true extra you get is a Trailer for the film. It is interesting to note, I watched the trailer before watching the film and noticed that there was a scene in the trailer involving Carrie Fisher and Sam Waterstone that was cut out of the released print. This doesn't detract or add anything to the story at all, but it has to be said that it would have been nice as a Deleted Scene on the DVD. I didnt think that I would like this film, but it is one of them films that does grow on you as you watch it and by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it.
---Situations to view---
My idea of a night in watching a DVD is watching a film like The Dirty Dozen or Aliens, so If I was to say what type of situation this film could be viewed in well then I would say maybe a first date scenario . no, girl's night in yes, also a romantic evening for two with Pizza and Wine yes definitely. Chaps you could get some serious brownie points with this film around Valentine's Day, believe me.
If you pay anymore than £5.99 for this film on the net youre being ripped off. This is also available in a three film triple pack with Annie Hall and Manhattan included. Which if you are a fan of Allen would be good value for money and also a pleasant way to spend an evening.
Thanks for reading and thank you for your time. Until the next review!!
This review can also be found on my cio.co.uk account.
.....................HANNAH AND HER SISTERS.....................
Summary of review :
This is a traditional, chic-flick (Romantic film) which also has its comic moments throughout.
Watching it back now, you can tell it was made in 1986 and so is a bit dated, but then again classics are always fun to watch, I mean I've watched James Bond hundreds of times!
The actual film itself was recognised with 7 BAFTA nominations, and the writer Woody Allen received two BAFTAs and was nominated for Best Director.
The film is based on 3 sisters, starting at Thanksgiving dinner and ending in the same fashion, suggesting the film is based on the lives of the characters on a 12 month period.
It can be found priced at £5.97 at amazon.co.uk, so is definitely affordable and worthwhile if you enjoy a classic film, especially as other classics such as 007, is a couple of pounds more expensive.
Because the film is so old, and DVDs were not used then, there are hardly any extras other than the original theatrical trailer.
The film is rated as a 15+ years and so is excludable to buy, including some sexual behaviour, such as when they talk about masturbation.
Ok, here is the full in-depth review of Hannah and her sisters, I had to re-watch the whole film for all you guys! It is a 21 year old film produced by the award winning ''Woody Allen." It is based on Hannah, who's husband has an affair with her sister lasting several months in secret. Clearly, you can see that this film is likely to develop into a romantic story and so may be more suited to a female audience, although it does also provide light-hearted comedy with Mickey. So in this review, I will discuss the plot, the character performances, the awards achieved from this film, the cast, the price, the overview, the statistics, my favourite quotes, information on Woody Allen and some extra information. Really is in-depth!
The film starts off as the family are gathered around the table where Hannah plays host at Thanksgiving dinner. Hannah is married to Elliot, a man who I can't understand why he married her seeing as he seems to despise her personality. This leads him to look elsewhere as he decides he wants a mistress to go with his wife. Whilst he is thinking about this, Hannah's sister Lee has grown tired of her boyfriend; Frederick and leaves him. So rather predictably the two of them start a disturbing relationship, where the Hannah's husband and Hannah's sister have a long-lasting affair in secret.
Part of the basis of the film is also focused on Holly, Hannah's other sister who is a "dreamer-actress." She hasn't found any luck with her career as an actress, and so works in catering. Her rival, 'April' is competing with her to secure an acting career and a man to keep. Both of these Holly finds herself the loser in and so is in a depressed state. She decides that now is the time for her to change her way of life, and decides to become a writer using the dramatic events which occur between Hannah and Elliot as a basis for her story. However, she feels it is too personal to Hannah and so describes her rival, 'April' instead, finally she is successful as Mickey decides to give her a helping hand in producing it.
The comic part of this film, for me, was the best part of the film for me, naturally because I'm not the greatest fan of romantic films, I'm more into action films or comedy films. Woody Allen must have chosen himself to play Mickey on purpose as he is the funniest guy in the film. He ends the film marrying Hannah's sister Holly, a previous cocaine addict, who he had a strange meeting with the first time. Some of his hilarious quotes can be found later in the section where I list a couple of my favourite quotes from the film!
I thought the characters in the film were especially outstanding, and have decided to focus on the best performers.
Mickey is actually hilarious, I mean Woody Allen is a genius for comedy like this, back when all of it had to be original unlike these days where people can be funny by copying others. He pulls off all the jokes perfectly and is a believable character.
Hannah is a rather naive character, who is constantly being used as Holly borrows money off her to venture into becoming a professional writer and her husband treats her badly. She puts off the performance with professionalism and puts in an all-together good performance at acting.
Elliot is the man that is having all the affairs and causing disruption. He performed so well that he was awarded with an Oscar and really made you believe his character. You may have seen him star in Batman begins.
Holly is the sister of Hannah, who really acts as if she is desperate to become famous and earn money in creative ways, such as writing, acting etc. All of the females have a sexual appearance which almost wants you, the viewer to see a relationship develop.
Hannah and her sisters was both nominated and awarded for numerous things for their acting abilities and the off-stage work. Seeing as there were so many different awards ceremonies where they were given out, I will give out only the ones I consider are deserving of recognition. At the Golden Globes, it picked up the award for best motion picture, with thanks to Woody Allen. Again at the BAFTAs, Woody Allen was the only one to pick up an award linked to the film, winning best director and best screenplay. However, at the Oscars, finally some of the cast was recognised along with the director. Woody won best writer, whilst Dianne Wiest (Holly) picked up best actress in a supporting role. Hilariously, Michael Caine (Elliot) did not attend the awards ceremony, having been nominated 3 times previously and always losing. This would be the first year he would actually win and he didn't turn up!! Overall, as a film it picked up best film, rated by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and therefore should not be looked down on, it definitely was a good film of its time!
Here is the list of the cast and their characters in the film:
Barbara Hershey as Lee. (The cheating sister)
Carrie Fisher as April. (Holly's rival)
Michael Caine as Elliot. (Hannah's husband)
Mia Farrow as Hannah. (Main character..in the title)
Maureen O'Sullivan as Norma. (Parent)
Lloyd Nolan as Evan. (Parent)
Max von Sydow as Frederick. (Rejected boyfriend of Lee)
Woody Allen as the writer, director and starring as Mickey.
Daniel Stern as Dusty.
Julie Kavner as Gail.
Joanna Gleason as Carol.
Bobby Short as Bobby.
Lewis Black as Paul.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Mary.
Just for you I will research on the net different prices where you can purchase this DVD. On Amazon their new edition is worth £5.97 but can also be bought second hand at a price of £3.58. Whereas a much cheaper option can be found in hmv where it is available at £2.99.This I think will be the lowest price that you will be able to find anywhere, unless you want to go around some charity shops and look there. I mean this in comparison to some other films such as 007, which is a couple of pounds more expensive but it is way more of a classic and will definitely provide you with more action. Though if you look at another film which is of the same genre; romance we see that pride and prejudice is around £10 on amazon, is more recent and has proved to be popular around the country.
Seeing as this is a comedy whilst still being a romantic film, I thought it suitable that some quotes should be included:
When Mickey says:
"A week ago I went to the store and bought a rifle! I was gonna, you know, if they told me I had a tumor, I was gonna kill myself. The only thing that might-ve stopped me, is that my parents would be devastated... I would have to shoot them also, first. And then I have an aunt and uncle, you know, it would've been a blood bath."
Then Mickey says, whilst watching some joggers running in the park:
"Look at all these people, trying to stop the inevitable decay of their bodies." Woah he really doesn't like the idea of life!
Length: Approx. 103mins
This is an alright amount of time for a film not too long and not too short.
This can be changed to most European languages.
Aspect ratio: 1:85:1
Age rating: 15+ years
The film cannot be bought by under 15s.
Release date: 7th February 1986
Mono, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
EXTRA!!!! Original Theatrical Trailer
Gives you the chance to see how it was advertised, a fairly poor extra to be honest.
Interactive Menu Screens
Character performances: 8/10
Special effects: 4/10
Overall, this product does truly deserve 4 stars, with the only main criticisms that it is quite noticeably old, and the lack of extras available. At only £3 how could this product not be worthwhile? I mean at least you are not paying £20 for a new film which might disappoint you. The characters are played superbly and the plot is satisfying bar the points where it could be seen as predictable. But you can see from the amount of awards and nominations for awards that film is truly a classic, but really I would more easily recommend this to the female audience as it could be described as a bit of a chick-flick. So it would be ideal if all of the girls gathered together to watch it, or any girls out there could force your men out there to watch it, as punishment or reward! Anyway, I wouldn't say to anyone under 15 that they shouldn't watch the film, it's not that rude..it's just that back when it was made swearing was less common in films and reference to sex. In conclusion, this product will be sure to entertain you, but don't be afraid to look out in the market for more proven classics.
Thanks for reading,
A comedy that examines the contemporary relationships and romantic attachments of three sisters living in New York.