by Xin Wen
Two months ago, I watched Annie Hall, and felt quite amused by it. (Here is my favorite scene):
So, it surprised me a little bit when I read of Woody Allen’s dislike of Annie Hall. In 1977, on the premiere of the film, as Julian Fox stated “Pessimistically, he declared it, like a number of his films, ‘a personal failure’: a view scarcely borne out by its enormous critical and commercial success.” (Woody—Movies from Manhattan, Julian Fox, page 97) In fact, apart from the commercial success, the film Annie Hall also had an impact on fashion--The style of the female leading role Annie, played by Diane Keaton, “Fueled a world-wide phenomenon and a trend in cross-dressing that continued to influence womens’ wardrobes into the 1980’s.”
When Diane Keaton first came to the shooting scene, it is said that her way of dressing was criticized by the costume designer Ruth Morley—“Curiously, Annie Hall’s costume designer, Ruth Morley, had been initially resistant to Diane’s ‘crazy’ way of dressing, but Woody, considering the actress something of a sartorial ‘genius’, persuaded Morley to let her have her own way. ” (Woody—Movies from Manhattan, Julian Fox, page 98)
At last, Diane’s style was a little bit masculine: baggy shirts and pants, waistcoats, ties and a very big tote (she even put her tennis racket in it). The whole style was androgynous, but very cheeky, and suitable for the character Annie. She was confused sometimes and needed Alvy (the leading man’s) help to gain confidence (he encouraged her to sing publicly), but she was brave and independent enough to leave him and fly to Los Angeles for her own career. Although in the actual movie’s end, Annie returns to New York, though my version of the story would have been more feministic—Annie would have been fine in LA. Two years after the release of Annie Hall, another film Kramer vs. Kramer captured the beat of the era—the second wave of feminism reached its climax in the 1970’s.
Although the film was largely created by Woody Allen and in it he expressed his bitterness and confusion toward life, the success of the film owed a lot to the character Annie. ‘It was on Annie that the emotional heart of the movie finally fastened and thus provided for America, as elsewhere, a feminine ideal for the late 1970s.’ (Woody—Movies from Manhattan, Julian Fox, page 92) Like the dressing style, the personality of the character, Annie, greatly resembled Diane Keaton. It is said that, “The film has been seen by many observers as a cinematic love-letter to Diane Keaton and, indeed, makes use of the couple’s off-screen as well as the entrancing quirkiness Woody and Brickman discerned in Diane’s personality.” (Woody—Movies from Manhattan, Julian Fox, page 87)
Annie’s look was referred to as the “Annie Hall look” since the popularity of the film. All the elements of the look are easy to find nowadays, what’s hard to copy is the spirit behind the look. Annie was quirky, sentimental, and daffy, but most importantly, she was independent, or at least, she wanted to be independent. For women in hardship or deep poverty, Annie’s image should provoke more insights.