I love Woody Allen films, especially Annie Hall and Manhattan, and I very much enjoyed Blue Jasmine, mostly because of Cate Blanchet’s arresting performance (Woman Under the Influence anyone?,) but I was recently confronted with the very believable allegations that he sexually molested one of his daughters when she was only seven years old. It shatters the soul to think of such a thing. It sticks a knife in my heart.
I don’t think I can watch a Woody Allen film again, and that thought makes me a little sad, but then the disgust wells up inside of me and that twinge of loss dissipates like vapor.
But the art he created still stands. People will probably be watching and being inspired by Annie Hall after I’m dead and might be blissfully ignorant that he sexually molested a child, or it will just be one of those facts that you know, but it’s still difficult to feel real. The decades and millennia do that to historical figures.
As for the present age, we’ve lived for years with the knowledge that he dated and married his stepdaughter, and even though that’s disgusting and heartbreaking in it’s own way, his young wife Soon-Yi consented on the relationship and their marriage has lasted 16 years. Loving his work I, and so many others, rationalized that even though the situation was extremely weird and broke a number of boundaries, it was probably ok. I mean sort of ok. It was working for them somehow, right?
Now, I’m starting to doubt those rationalizations. Ronan Farrow (Woody’s son with Mia Farrow who may actually be Frank Sinatra’s kid) hasn’t spoken to his father in a long time because he’s totally disgusted by the situation with his sister Soon-Yi. “He’s my father married to my sister,” Ronan has said. “That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression.” If you aren’t thoroughly creeped out by now, here are some shots of Woody with his current two daughters, who he adopted with Soon-Yi.
Can the personal life of the creator can be completely separated from the art? In this situation, I simply can’t do it. The thought makes me physically ill. I hate to bring myself into this, but after I read the Vanity Fair article a few weeks ago where Dylan, the daughter he adopted with Mia Farrow, actually speaks out about what she remembers happening (not in detail,) and regrets that she did not testify in court when she was seven, I felt betrayed. When I am connected to someone’s work, it shapes me, and I feel personally close with them, even though it’s a bit of an illusion. I felt betrayed by the person I believed Woody Allen to be, I felt betrayed by a person I related to on a number of levels.
His next project is called Magic in the Moonlight has freakin’ Colin Firth in it. Colin Firth! One of the boyfriends in my head! But I won’t be seeing it.