False Authenticity in the Films of Woody Allen

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Vick, Nicholas

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East Carolina University


Woody Allen is an auteur who is deeply concerned with the visual presentation of his cityscapes. However, each city that Allen films is presented in such a glamorous light that the depiction of the cities is falsely authentic. That is, Allen's cityscapes are actually unrealistic recreations based on his nostalgia or stilted view of the city's culture. Allen's treatment of each city is similar to each other in that he strives to create a cinematic postcard for the viewer. However, differing themes and characteristics emerge to define Allen's optimistic visual approach. Allen's hometown of Manhattan is a place where artists, intellectuals, and writers can thrive. Paris denotes a sense of nostalgia and questions the power behind it. Allen's London is primarily concerned with class and the social imperative. Finally, Barcelona is a haven for physicality, bravado, and sex but also uncertainty for American travelers. Despite being in these picturesque and dynamic locations, happiness is rarely achieved for Allen's characters. So, despite Allen's dreamy and romanticized visual treatment of cityscapes and culture, Allen is a director who operates in a continuous state of contradiction because of the emotional unrest his characters suffer.