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Zelig (Dir. Woody Allen/1983)
Before Forrest Gump was Zelig. Feeding a fictional character into history is central to the story of Leonard Zelig. Prior to Christopher Guest and his popular use of mockumentary in This is Spinal Tap, Woody Allen was there in 1983 (Allen’s Take the Money and Run from 1969 is one of the earliest uses of mockumentary in cinema). This is the story of Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen), a fictional character in the 1920’s dubbed a chameleon due to his extraordinary skill in changing form when stood next to a different man. If stood next to Native-American’s – he turns into a Native American. Zelig is innovative, confident and intriguing but it lacks a sense of pace or urgency. Once you know the skill, the consequence is less fascinating. Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow and Adolf Hitler all appear but Zelig is uninspiring. Shouldn’t he be the most interesting? Turns out, he isn’t.