The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)


Comedy | Fantasy | Romance





Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Edward Herrmann, John Wood, Deborah Rush, Zoe Caldwell, Van Johnson, Karen Akers, Milo O'Shea, Dianne Wiest, George Martin


Trapped in a dead-end job and an abusive marriage, Cecelia (Mia Farrow) regularly seeks refuge in the local movie house. She spends much of her time at the local movie theater repeatedly seeing the same movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo. One day, a minor character in the movie, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), literally walks off the screen and joins Cecilia in exploring the world on the other side of the screen.


Has the idea of a movie character literally walking off the screen ever crossed your mind? And what would happen if that occurs? Woody Allen thought about it, and this is what "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is about, a brilliant, surreal and original enchanting fantasy that envelops the viewer into a whirlwind of adventures. 

In life not everything goes the right way, or the way we planned, and the lack of courage and strength to react often leads us to accept situations we are not fully happy about. Woody Allen thus presents cinema as a possible way out from reality, mixing together reality and fiction up until it's almost impossible to distinguish them.

The film induces us to consider the viewer's relationship with art, and art's relationship with reality by creating a two-way communication between art and reality, where real people want to refuge in fantasy and fiction characters want to live in real life, and poses a question: how deep are we willing to believe this is possible? This is the question Mia Farrow's Cecilia has to answer: choosing perfection/art or reality? Her choice shows how afraid we are of what it could be and that we end up choosing what seems to make more sense, even if that means going back to normality.

This time appearing as director and screenwriter only, Woody Allen once again shows why he is god of cinema. The cinematography, that alternates black and white to colour, still is Gordon Willis's and still is beautiful. 

Mia Farrow superbly plays Cecilia, and gives one of her best performances. Jeff Daniels is also good in the role of the character who comes into the real world, as well as the actor who plays that role. Danny Aiello is marvelous as Cecilia's abusive husband.

A must-see for any Allen fan and movie lover.

You make love without fading out? - Tom Baxter


  1. I have seen this film way back when it first came out and I liked it because it wasn't so..Woody Allen to me:) I would have to see it again to really remember. Great review!

    1. True, this one is more close to his earlier funny films