In this essay, I am going to discuss a certain way of viewing Annie Hall to you. This lecture has two purposes: both to illuminate some of Annie Hall's central concerns, through analysing both its aesthetic and narrative structures; and to allow you to consider a way in which a film can be approached as a visual text. .
"A nervous romance".
Annie Hall is a film about a modern romance, a "nervous romance", as the marketing of the film puts it. What might be meant by this term?.
The word romance has a long and complex etymology, originally meaning something written in French. Mediaeval stories, written before the advent of the novel, could be either epics - usually based in some kind of historical fact - or romances, tales of chivalry based on legend and adventure, or the supernatural. Romances, then, in the medieval sense of the term, treated imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious. Gradually, the term has evolved to evoke a love story, usually heterosexual, and a modern day romantic film or novel usually revolves around a man and a woman meeting, falling in love, and ending up married - many romantic comedy films will end with either the wedding or the marriage proposal as this is where the plot as such ends, with the two characters now safely wedded together. The marriage plot, indeed, is a staple of much fiction concerning relations between men and women, and is one of the key motifs of Hollywood cinema. .
Nervous, on the other hand, has a rather different set of meanings and emotions that accompany it. It refers to nervous energy, meaning to be easily excited or irritated, where one is jumpy, tense and apprehensive. Alvy identifies himself as nervous throughout the film, saying that his childhood was dominated by a roller-coaster because he was "a little nervous I think"; he dislikes the countryside because, he tells his second wife Robin while they argue in bed, "it makes me nervous".