Annie Hall Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Annie Hall Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


Alvy is a character who is resistant to change. Annie for some time moves to L.A., but moves back to New York. Rob, Alvy's friend, makes a change and moves to L.A. for good. We can say Alvy is an "absurd" character because he is prone to change. He is almost flat and two-dimesional. Throughout the movie, there are sequences (the "double Annie effect", the "Snow White cartoon", the "Hasidic Jew transformation") where 'transformations' take place visually, which all speak about the way Alvy sees himself and others. They do not demonstrate a change in him.

Alvy in his comedy and play makes changes to his "jokes" to accomodate for his own personal desires and satisfication. It should be noted that Annie is the opposite of Alvy. She goes from a wallflower to a blossom. She becomes much cofindent and independent, yet she always seems to be somehow dependent on Alvy; it never changes. She always seems to come back to him one last time.



Alvy is a comedian, transforming his humor to accomodate for his desires. He mostly tells satirical jokes. Later on, he goes onto write a play about his experience with Annie. In the beginning, he gets a lot of fans coming up to him and recognizing him on the streets. Annie is a wallflower singer and she slowly rises up until she is recognized by Tony Lacey and gets a shot in L.A. Soon, she gets the attention that Alvy did. This reversal is a turning point in their relationship.

Annie and Alvy are both transformed by their art, if we can say that Alvy is transformed at all. More so, Alvy transforms events through performance. Annie is transformed by performance. Performance and art plays an important part in both locations, L.A. and N.Y., Alvy's comedy on the Carson show and his play, the lounge where Annie sings, and the west coast where Annie works with Tony. Art is important to modernity.



Annie uses drugs to become more comfortable to have sex with Alvy. She is open-minded and liberal about drugs, while Alvy is not and feels he is too old for drugs. The attitude towards drugs symbolizes their attitude towards sex. Alvy wants plain old, boring sex and Annie wants exciting sex.


Psychiatrists and Psychoanalysis

The importance of psychoanalysis, Freudianism, and psychiatrists in the movie symbolizes the rising trend of modern psychology in America at the time the movie took place and helps us to better understand what the characters are thinking (for example, in the psychiatrist scene or the scene where subtext was shown).

"The Sorrow and the Pity" and Jewish Identity

A recurring motif was "The Sorrow and the Pity", a movie that had to do with Jewish suffering and guilt. Alvy was fascinated by this and this was the only movie he would go see, implying he felt sorry for himself all the time, and fulfilled the self-fulfilling prophecy that he was a stereotypical Jew as Annie had called him.



Alvy's wives are stereotyped as stereotypical Los Angelites: very superficial. Alvy's neurosis and Hadisicness is parodized in the dinner scene wih Annie's family when he is transformed to a bearded man with a hat with long hair, the even-more stereotypical Jew.

Annie is a Midwestern who idealizes Los Angeles and comes from a WASP family that hates Jews, although she loves Alvy and is trying to break away from the constraints of the WASPs.

Rob is a typical New Yorker and calls Alvy "Max", a nickname that he doesn't use lightly. New York is a melting pot of stereotypes.

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