Sometimes I think that every movie should an animated sequence. If done right, it can potentially add so much to a film’s energy and visual imagination. Just look, for example, at Kill Bill Vol. 1 or Run Lola Run, each of which make liberal use of animation’s unique capacities. In Annie Hall, Woody Allen pulls animation out of his postmodern bag of tricks so he can talk about his all-important Woman Problems. Ostensibly talking to a policeman on horseback, he opines,
You know, even as a kid, I always went for the wrong women. I think that’s my problem. When my mother took me to see Snow White, everyone else fell for Snow White. I immediately fell for the wicked queen.
We then get a brief vision of Alvy’s domestic life, with him rendered as Stuart Hample’s comic-strip version of Allen and Snow White’s queen, voiced by Diane Keaton, in place of Annie. The animation, by veteran Disney animator Chris Ishii, is hardly Fantasia quality, but it gets the point across. The dialogue is mildly funny—e.g., “I don’t get a period! I’m a cartoon character.”—but never uproarious. However, the sequence succeeds at its main purpose: it’s startling. It breaks up not only the free-floating narrative, but also the film’s visual flow. It proves that Allen’s taking off the stylistic kid gloves.