Love and Death
is a 1975 Woody Allen
comedy film that is an Affectionate Parody
of Russian novels, with a particular debt to War and Peace
. It's Allen's last totally comedic film before Tom Hanks Syndrome
hit, and he considers it one of his favorites of his work. The film deals with Boris Grushenko (Allen), who like many other Allen protagonists, is a cowardly
young man with intellectual pretensions. Grushenko is drafted into the Napoleonic wars and ultimately roped into an assassination attempt on Napoleon.
Contains examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Very much so, with tons of Genius Bonus for fans of Russian literature.
- Anachronism Stew: Includes several instances of this played for humor.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Boris addresses the audience at the end.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Boris's father.
Boris: You're a real loon, aren't you?
- Contemplate Our Navels: Wheat...
- A Date with Rosie Palms:
Countess Alexandrovna: You are the greatest lover I've ever had.
Boris: Well, I practice a lot when I'm alone.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Boris has to deal with one when he joins the army. An African-American one. In Imperial Russia.
- Well, Pushkin's grandfather was a black Ethopian mercenary who fought under Peter the Great, but in this case, it was probably to fulfill two tropes.
- Ironically, it predates the performance by Louis Gossett, Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman.
- Girl on Girl Is Hot:
Sonja: There are many different kinds of love, Boris. There's love between a man and a woman; between a mother and son...
Boris: Two women. Let's not forget my favorite.
- God Is Evil: Amusingly subverted with this quote from Boris, "If it turns out that there IS a God, I don't think that he's evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever."
- The Grim Reaper: Likely as a Shout-Out to Bergman, although unusually, he's dressed in all white.
- Hope Spot: Boris is told by an Angel of the Lord that he will be spared from execution. Later...
Boris's ghost: I got screwed!
- Hurricane of Puns: In one scene, all of the dialogue consists of quoting the titles of works by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It concludes with the line, "Really, how novel."
- Instant Marksman Just Squeeze Trigger:
Sonya: I'm not leaving here until we shoot Napoleon. Here. (Hands Boris a pistol)
Boris: Oh, I see. Thanks. I'm the hit man.
Sonya: Remember, you can't take any chances. Now, make sure the barrel of the gun is pressed against his head or his chest. And don't pull the trigger, Boris. Squeeze it.
Boris: Where did you go to finishing school? On a pirate ship?
- Insult Backfire:
Boris: You're a tyrant, and a dictator, and you start wars!
Napoleon: Why is he reciting my credits?
- I Take Offense to That Last One:
Anton: Grushenko? Isn't he the young coward all St. Petersburg is talking about?
Boris: I'm not so young. I'm thirty-five.
- Love Dodecahedron: Sonja's friend Natasha is involved in one of these.
- Of Corsets Sexy
Countess Alexandrovna: How do you like it?
Boris: It's all right. I prefer something sexy, but...
- Public Domain Soundtrack: All the music is by Sergei Prokovief, mostly from the Lt. Kije Suite.
- Pyrrhic Victory
Priest: God was truly kind to us this day.
Boris: Can you imagine if he wasn't? It might have rained.
- Really Gets Around: Sonya, and how.
Sonja: Oh, Boris, I'm so unhappy.
Boris: I wish you weren't.
Sonja: Voskovec and I quarrel frequently. I've become a scandal.
Boris: Poor Sonja.
Sonja: I've been visiting Seretsky in his room.
Why? What's in his room? (beat)
Sonja: And before Seretsky, Alexei. And before Alexei, Alegorian. And before Alegorian, Asimov.
Sonja: Wait! I'm still on the A's.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction:
Sonja: Pardon me? I'm having trouble adjusting my belt. Do you think you could come over here and hold my bosom for a while?
- Shout-Out: Parodies of shots from Ingmar Bergman and Sergei Eisenstein movies.
- Visual Pun: The "valuable piece of land" owned by Boris's father turns out to be small enough to carry in his coat.
- Word Salad Philosophy: "Objectivity is subjective!" "To love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer, to suffer is to be unhappy..."