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LOVE AND DEATH (1975)

This Woody Allen philosophic comedy features Napoleon on the verge on invading the Russian Empire, forcing Russian nobody, Boris Grishenko, to enlist in the army to save his country.  Accidentally capturing a group of enemy officers, Boris becomes somewhat of a hero.  Still, the French army is too strong, and when Napoleon reaches Moscow, Boris decides to put an end to the war.  Meanwhile, his young wife wants in on the action, hoping to kill Napoleon before the Russian army gets a hold of him.

The cast includes Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Harold Gould, Georges Adet, Frank Adu, Edmond Ardisson, Feodor Atkine, Albert Augier, Yves Barsaco, Lloyd Battista, and Jack Berard.

Director/writer Woody Allen's "Love and Death" is a hysterical, historical look at 18th Century Russia.

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"A Brilliant intellectual comedy" "A fantastic and affectionate spoof of Russian
Literature, Tolstoy in particular, and any movie ever made about Russian history."

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The basic story involves a nerdy Russian farmer's war adventures, his love life, and his search for the meaning of life.

A cowardly 18th Century Russian farmer, Boris Grushenko (Woody Allen) grapples with issues of sex, love, and death. Woody originally planned to release the movie with the title, "Sex and Death." When UA informed the Woodman that this title was unacceptable, he compromised and settled for "Love and Death."

Director/writer Woody Allen's "Love and Death," is a hysterical, historical look at 18th Century Russia, around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, which "invades the land and spirit of Tolstoy". Boris (Allen), one of three sons of a farmer, Dimitri Grushenko (Brian Coburn) at the beginning of the film is in love with his cousin Sonya (Keaton) who loves one of his brothers, Ivan, who loves another girl, Natasha (Jessica Harper). When Ivan announces his marriage to Natasha, Sonya impulsively announces that she too is to be married to the Herring fish merchant, Leon Voskovec.

When war with France breaks out, the reluctant, "short on courage" Boris joins the the army with his brothers, under pressure from his family, which leads to humorous situations for klutzy Boris in Boot Camp. His mother proclaimed to their party guests: "He'll go and he'll fight, and I hope they will put him in the front lines." Boris: "Thanks a lot, Mom. My mother, folks."

Through hilarious twists in fate, he inadvertently becomes a hero, experiences bedroom escapades, with the luscious Countess Alexandrovna (Olga Georges-Picot) a duel with the jealous Anton Inbedkov (Harold Gould), reunites with Sonya, and becomes involved in a plan to kill Napoleon himself.

The film has a great mix of both intellectual and physical humor. In Allen's hilarious script, in between various segments, Allen inserts intellectual humor, along with the physical laughs. Like Tolstoy does in his book, War and Peace, various characters have discussions about morality, talk demonstratively about wheat fields and the golden sun, all which is cleverly injected into conversations.

Characters talk to themselves and the camera, briefly putting the story on hold. For example, Keaton thinks aloud in a humorous fashion of whether she should marry Boris, or would she feel trapped,etc. Boris at the same time, facially reacts to her discussion and talks about wheat, in a very funny imitation of a Tolstoy character.

Favorite scenes Include: Sonya at home with her merchant husband and her lover. Boris's adventures at boot camp and the battle Field, Boris's flirting with the Countess at the Opera Theatre, the duel, the beginning scenes from Boris & Sonya's marriage the sequences leading up to their assassination attempt on Napoleon, and Woody dancing around with the Grim reaper. It pokes fun at similar scenes in Ingmar Bergman movies.

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen make a great screen comedy team. They have an obvious affection for each other, and great comedy timing. "Allen and Keaton are the most delectably funny movie team since Mae West and W.C. Fields." - (L.A. Herald Examiner)

If you enjoyed LOVE AND DEATH you may likeANNIE HALL, SLEEPER, and/or MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY.

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