The directing style of Woody in this one baffles me, he constantly cuts faces, shows only certain body parts and more than often there is no emphasis on the person who is speaking in the frame.

My favourite example is in the jewellery shop scene.

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Here we only see the jeweller's hand, only after some time do we get to see his face even then it is a abrupt close-up.

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Later, when Norton starts singing his face is partly visible et.

What could be the possible explanation for such weird directing style?

  • While @Chandler Bong's explanation was very enlightening I also saw a little quirk, sure sometimes people are off screen while they speak but when they do appear, they are not portrayed how a standard cinematographer would do. Sep 16, 2016 at 11:28
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    I found a great explanation of this from the Wiki article on Gordon Willis, in that he talks about "visual relativity", saying: "I like going from light to dark, dark to light, big to small, small to big". Sep 16, 2016 at 11:29
  • However note that Willis wasn't the cinematographer of this movie, his last movie with Allen was Purple Rose from Cairo. Although it's possible that the cinematographer of this movie was influenced by earlier Allen's movies (and Willis work) or that it was Allen's influence, also based on Willis work. Sep 27, 2016 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


As explained in Jason Bailey’s book The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion Allen was developing his visual style gradually, establishing most of his “individual imprints” throughout late 70s and 80s. This framing style seems to be a slight variation of an idea of his Annie Hall cinematographer Gordon Willis:

Woody developed another of his “individual imprints” in Annie Hall—the surprisingly radical idea of a frame that actors move in and out of freely, rather than one that captures their every move. It occurred accidentally; while shooting one of the Alvy/Annie dialogue scenes, Allen went to Willis with a concern. “I said to Gordie, ‘Hey, if we shoot Keaton this way, I’m going to be offstage when I do my joke,’” he recalled. “And he said, ‘That’s okay, they can hear you.’” It was a simple realization for Woody, but revolutionary. (“In every movie there’s at least one scene where nobody’s on and there’s just talking,” he’s said. “I throw one in always in honor of Gordon.”)

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