5 March 2021.
FILM: ALLEN v FARROW – in defence of Woody
I stand by Woody Allen. As a cinephile, I write this in response to the ongoing, very damning 4-part TV documentary called “Allen v Farrow”. They are out to put the nail in his coffin.
We know that writers, historians, filmmakers and the media can and do colour their stories by juggling facts – highlighting some areas and diminishing other parts that may not coincide with the view they wish to project. What is happening here is an outrageous public witch-hunt.
This highly-slanted documentary is based on the long-running allegations of sexual misconduct towards their daughter brought by Mia Farrow against Allen back in 1992 when they were going through separation battles. They had been together for 12 years and 13 films (1980-1992), had never married and had lived in separate apartments in Manhattan. Allen had started an affair with Farrow’s 21 year-old adoptive Korean daughter, Soon-Yi, to whom he is still married, and has had two children by. The affair was neither morally nor emotionally kosher, but he admitted to it and stood by her.
It was obviously a huge scandal, heightened by the shock and pain to Farrow and her many adoptive children, as well as to their only mutual child, Satchel Farrow Allen, who is now the 33 year-old journalist Ronan Farrow. Ronan, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra (Mia Farrow’s ex-husband), has come out vehemently against Allen. Their relationships are incredibly complicated, to say the least. A few of the family children have defended and stood by Allen, as has Soon-Yi, but they are not in the documentary.
So in 1992, the distraught Mia Farrow accused Allen of having molested their 7 year-old adopted daughter, Dylan, because of a “touching” incident in the attic, which seems to have become further embellished in the documentary. After various investigations, courtroom clashes and much media fodder, Allen was completely exonerated at the time.
Allen has always denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the little girl (who is now 35) was psychologically influenced and manipulated by her enraged mother. And now this exploitive series, riding the toxic MeToo wave with Ronan, Dylan and Mia plowing on in their accusations, continues to stir the muck. 4 episodes?!?
In the meantime, some of the actors in his previous films have come out with holier-than-thou statements of shock at these (unproven) allegations, while certain distributors and publishers have refused to touch his recent works. What utter hypocrisy, or to paraphrase Jesus, “the one that is without sin, cast the first stone”…
Why on earth try to destroy a great artist at the twilight of his life (85 years-old) who has given so many exceptional moments to his multitude of fans? Who does it help? Is such stale revenge still so sweet? Is this really necessary?
To set the record straight on his artistic accomplishments, Allen has steadily written and directed 50 films in the past 50 years, filled with comedy, nostalgia, human foibles and questions about life and death. They often reflect his own hangups and transition through life, as did Picasso’s works. He could be considered one of the finest undeclared philosophers of the 20th century.
He has won 4 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes and 10 BAFTAS (from 24 nominations each in the Oscars and the BAFTAS, and 13 nominations in the Golden Globes!) He has not accepted any as he does not believe in competition in the arts.
His actresses, Dianne Keaton, Cate Blanchett and Dianne Wiest have won acting Oscars for his films, ANNIE HALL, BLUE JASMINE, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and BULLETS OVER BROADWAY. His works have been continually honoured at the Cannes film festival, always out of Competition, according to his wishes.
Hilarious films such as his early TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM or LOVE AND DEATH showed his brilliant comic writing. THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO was an innovative marvel of delicate romance incorporating the magic of the silver screen. He broke hearts and turned nostalgic with MANHATTAN, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, RADIO DAYS and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. He became serious and psychological with INTERIORS, SEPTEMBER and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.
After his signature New York settings, he went off to Europe for such gems as SHADOWS AND FOG (a tribute to Kafka and film noir), the chilling MATCHPOINT set in London, the naughty VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and the delightful MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT on the Riviera.
But in between, he would go back to his philosophical comedies such as the wacky MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERIES, the art vs gangster BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, or the loopy and wise WHATEVER WORKS. All these with top actors waiting on line to be in his films.
His early book, WITHOUT FEATHERS, will have you laughing at every page, his latest APROPOS OF NOTHING is a delight of moments in his life and reflections from the corners of his mind. And he loves playing his clarinet every week with a group of his jazz buddies. Not as a celebrity, but just as one of the musicians.
An excellent way to know him better is Alec Baldwin’s in-depth interview with Woody Allen from 4/6/20, which you can Google.
Let the man be. He is a quiet, unassuming genius.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.