“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?” That’s the first thing Dylan Farrow asks in her painful, powerful and poignant open letter in the New York Times.
I can answer her question with no hesitation. Without a doubt it is the 1977 film Annie Hall, a movie that I have seen at least 20 times and that I count as one of my favorite films ever. But as I think about how much I love, adore, and admire that film, I am struck with the vision of Woody Allen not as an auteur but Woody Allen as a child molester. It suddenly soils the memories of what I think is a masterpiece. Now the question “What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?” becomes tinged with different meaning.
In Dylan Farrow’s “Open Letter” she revisits the traumatizing memories of being molested by her father Woody Allen in vivid detail. It is an intense, heavy read and it will surely have massive repercussions, not just in the Allen and Farrow households but in Hollywood.
These allegations resurfaced after Woody Allen received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globe Awards and a month before the Academy Awards, where Allen has been nominated for his script for Blue Jasmine. Dylan Farrow’s 20-year-old wounds have been ripped open again after her brother — Ronan Farrow — tweeted the following message after the airing of the Golden Globes: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
When the alleged molestation began to occur, Woody Allen had just wrapped up the relationship-heavy film Husbands and Wives and was starting work on Manhattan Murder Mystery, a film where Diane Keaton returned as his leading lady after Mia Farrow and Allen very publicly broke up (which is also when Allen famously began to date Farrow’s daughter Soon-Yi Previn). And there in the midst of it all, Allen according to Farrow began physically abusing the 7-year-old Dylan. Now, I should point out that as with many situations like this, there is no concrete evidence to prove his guilt. As Nicolas Kristof notes in his preface to Farrow’s piece, “It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence.”
But there is the court of public opinion, and the public is ruling that Allen is guilty. Some are taking his side, such as Robert B. Weide who defended Allen in his piece, The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast, and gives a play-by-play of the original legal wrangling of the molestation allegations. But others are quick to side with Dylan Farrow and her family with many vowing to never watch a Woody Allen film again (like our own Monica Bielanko who made that promise in her piece Supporting Dylan Farrow: Why This Mom Won’t Watch Another Woody Allen Movie). Many took that oath after the original allegations and his relationship with Soon-Yi.
This kind of scenario has happened before with director Roman Polanski. Although he was blacklisted for a bit and has yet to step foot back in the United States, he still makes films, still wins major awards (he won best director for The Pianist back in 2003), and he is still very much respected for his work. One has to wonder what kind of effect this will have on Woody Allen’s career. We can pretty much bet that he will NOT be receiving the Oscar for Blue Jasmine this year, which would send the message true or not that Hollywood condones his alleged behavior. His ticket sales will surely suffer with so many probably opting to skip his next project, Magic in the Moonlight, when it opens. A few upstanding actors will probably decline to work on his next film, even though working with the legend would have been a dream come true. One thing for sure, no one will be able to look at Woody Allen or his work the same way again. Allen and his canon will be forever tainted, which really is a shame because Annie Hall is one damn good movie.
“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?” was once fodder for dinner conversation, a great ice-breaker, or a telling question on a first date. But now it will be more difficult to answer. It would be hard to not include thoughts on his private life rather than his movies.
What do you think? Have you decided to stop supporting Woody Allen’s films due to his alleged actions?
Update: While Woody Allen generally keeps out of the limelight and doesn’t comment on things like this, his lawyer did write to Mother Jones stating: “It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.”
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