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Film / Shadows and Fog

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Irmy: I slept with someone for [money]. Does that makes me a whore?
Kleinmann: Well, no, only by the dictionary definition.

Shadows and Fog is a 1991 American comedy film directed by Woody Allen, based on his one-act play Death.

Kleinman (Allen), a meek bookkeeper, is awakened from his sleep by a vigilante mob, who claims to be looking for a serial killer and need his help. However, at one point the mob disappears, and wanders around town searching for the group with the help of Irmy (Mia Farrow), a circus performer.

This film features examples of:

  • Deliberately Monochrome: Besides being a signature style for some of Allen's movies, the film is in black-and-white as part of its homage to German Expressionism cinema.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The movie has a lot of fun with Irmy being a sword-swallower at the circus.
    Prostitute: What do you do in the circus, huh?
    Irmy: I'm a sword-swallower.
    Prostitute: Oh, a sword-swallower, that's my specialty, too.
  • Homage:
    • The film is a homage to the German Expressionism works of Fritz Lang and F. W. Murnau in its visual presentation.
    • The film is also decidedly Kafkaesque in theme, with the protagonist being awakened by a mob only for it to disappear and him having to wander around looking for them. This is more obvious in Allen's one-act play Death from which the film is based, in which Kleinman ends up dying pointlessly, as opposed to this film, where he survives.
  • Kafka Komedy: Certainly big on this in theme, with the protagonist being confused by the angry mob for the killer, though things end up being solved right at the very end.
  • Serial Killer: The mob that recruits Kleinman is looking after a serial killer.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the original one-act play, Kleinman ends up dying by the killer, but here he survives.
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  • Your Cheating Heart: Paul the Clown ends up sleeping with Maria, another circus artist, behind Irmy's back. Seeing this, Irmy also ends up having sex with Jack the student.


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