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Analyzing Woody Allen's Film Annie Hal

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There are a few ground rules usually followed when telling a story. A exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Occasionally, the story will have a few flash backs and flash forwards sprinkled throughout the tale; but they are usually tied in by subject matter or visual reference. After the flashback, the story picks up to the original timeline and stays on track for most of the story. But, where there are rules, there are those itching to break them. It has become more common to find stories that stray from the conventional flow of storytelling. They test the audiences capability to follow, and piece a story together.

Chris Ware is a groundbreaking comic artist, known for works such as Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartist Kid on Earth and Building Stories. His style is unique, and icon based, but its style of storytelling in Building Stories that is really unprecedented. The comic is packaged in a large puzzle box, with many small comic books, strips, newspaper pages and more. The reader is given the choice on which piece to read first, and every readers experience is unique. How each segment can be read in a different order, and still be understood by the audience is a strange phenomenon that goes against common rules of editing in film, and in any sequential medium. The story will piece together no matter what order it is read in, much like the choppy editing style of Annie Hall.

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The movie follows the timeline of Alvy’s Singers relationship through various ‘random’ memories. It seems to mimic an actual thought process after a relationship; with optimistic views of the relationship immediately followed by the pessimistic. The scenes are usually pretty coherent in subject matter, the cuts jumping from one subject the next tied by something as small as a single word that could easily be missed.

Alvy and Annie find themselves chasing lobsters in the kitchen, the scene jumps to Alvy and Annie walking on the boardwalk discussing her ex-boyfriends. Shortly afterwards, there is a back-flash to Alvy’s ex wives. The jumps in editing seem to be fairly rigid, but there are signifiers that tie scenes together. From the scene of Alvy’s last ex wife, he mentions a “series of hot showers”, followed shortly by Rob mentioning the showers of the gym where Alvy met Annie. From there, the story settles, and follows the beginning of Annie and Avly’s relationship.

Within a matter of 10 minutes, we learn a lot about the characters. The bite sized tales of their relationship tease the audience about the definitive timeline of the overall plot. It forces the audience to workout the storyline on there own, or realize that the order doesn’t really matter after all. The pieces of the story, and the moral of the story weave everything together.

Though the plot of Annie Hall isn’t completely nonsensical or random, it gives the illusion of being so. It still jumps from flashback to flash forwards to the point where its difficult to determine ‘present day’. Building Stories, the graphic novel, randomizes the story in its nature. For both pieces, the audience is still forced to put together the basis of the story on their own, making each story more fulfilling in the long run.


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