HANNAH AND HER SISTERS: The Essentials
Hannah (Mia Farrow), who is married to Elliot (Michael Caine), is the level-headed glue that holds the family together. Her beautiful sister Lee (Barbara Hershey) lives with Frederick (Max von Sydow), a reclusive older artist who is sure that Lee will one day leave him. The third sister Holly (Dianne Wiest) is the deeply neurotic ne'er-do-well of the family, at once deeply adoring of Hannah while at the same time harboring poisonous resentment towards her. While Hannah stays busy trying to solve everyone else's problems, she doesn't notice when her husband takes an obsessive interest in her sister Lee, which leads to a guilt-ridden affair. Meanwhile, Hannah's hypochondriac ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen) is certain that he is dying and embarks on a quest to find a religion he can believe in.
Director: Woody Allen
Executive Producer: Jack Rollins, Charles H. Joffe
Producer: Robert Greenhunt
Associate Producer: Gail Sicilia
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Cinematography: Carlo Di Palma
Editing: Susan E. Morse
Production Designer: Stuart Wurtzel
Set Designer: Carol Joffe
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Makeup: Fern Buchner
Cast: Woody Allen (Mickey), Michael Caine (Elliot), Mia Farrow (Hannah), Carrie Fisher (April), Barbara Hershey (Lee), Lloyd Nolan (Hannah's Father), Maureen O'Sullivan (Hannah's Mother), Daniel Stern (Dusty), Max von Sydow (Frederick), Dianne Wiest (Holly), Lewis Black (Paul), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Mary), Christian Clemenson (Larry), Julie Kavner (Gail), J.T. Walsh (Ed Smythe), John Turturro (Writer), Rusty Magee (Ron), Ira Wheeler (Dr. Abel), Richard Jenkins (Dr. Wilkes).
Why HANNAH AND HER SISTERS is Essential
Funny and poignant, intimate and complex, Hannah and Her Sisters is considered by many to be among writer-director Woody Allen's best and most richly satisfying films of his entire career.
Hannah and Her Sisters was the first film in which Woody Allen depicted the warmth and life-affirming aspects of family life in one of his films as opposed to previous stories that centered around single characters or dysfunctional families (Interiors, 1978). It marked a turning point in his work towards a more mature level of complexity that began to show in his subsequent films. The film also offers a rare dash of optimism with the film's uncharacteristically upbeat ending.
With its sharp dialogue, well-drawn characters and Chekhovian balance of comedy and pathos, the screenplay for Hannah and Her Sisters is one of Woody Allen's finest. It won him his second Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (the first was for 1977's Annie Hall).
Hannah and Her Sisters features one of Woody Allen's most talented and accomplished ensemble of actors including Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Max von Sydow, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan and Sam Waterston. Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest both won Oscars® in the Supporting Actor categories for their performances.
Hannah and Her Sisters was a rare instance of Woody Allen making a film that was both lavished with praise by the critics and loved by audiences as well. The film was one of his most profitable films at the box office.
This film marked the first time Woody Allen worked with cinematographer Carlo Di Palma. Allen usually used Gordon Willis, who had been the cinematographer on every one of his films since the Academy Award-winning Annie Hall in1977, but he was unavailable for Hannah due to a scheduling conflict. Di Palma's excellent work on Hannah led to a new collaborative relationship with Woody Allen that would last over a decade.
by Andrea Passafiume