Monday, April 17, 2017

An Open Letter to Mr. Woody Allen

Dear Mr. Woody Allen,


Allow me to give you some perspective on this letter and myself. I received a university degree in Psychology from Western Washington University in 1984, in the division of Awareness and Reasoning, with a concentration in Phenomenology. Along with that I study cinema and focused on Hitchcock, Kubrick and of course, your esteemed self.

I grew up watching the European Auteur directors, Truffaut and those, loving their works. Also Kurosawa of course, Tarkovsky and so on. Our local PBS station in the 1960s had on many European films, Monty Python and British shows. It was like growing up in a cinema class in some ways back then. No one I knew were watching films like that back then. But then, I was watching 1950s detective shows, Perry Mason and such as a five year old when no one was watching what I was putting on TV, or I would try to watch when no one was looking and I was supposed to be in bed.

I have enjoyed watching your career from before I even knew I was watching your career. Thank you for that. Later, I loved Sleeper and saw it many times until I had access to watch all your other works. I surveyed your films and after Sleeper I saw Bananas, Take the Money and Run.

Then, when I saw Love and Death I had graduated from fan to serious fan and student of your works. Eventually Annie Hall came out and was well praised as it deserved. Then there are your books, interviews, and so on. As for your private life, I have always tried to avoid passing judgement on those in the public eye, for what I do not intimately have knowledge of.

My beloved and late grandmother had despised Charlie Chaplin whom I loved. Incorrectly too, as it turned out all for a mistaken understanding of his life and intentions, from poor media attention and mere hearsay. From that point on as a child when I discovered that, I tried to separate an artist from their art. Otherwise we might have no artists.

I saw your film Interiors at a theater in Seattle in 1992. It wasn't a full crowd but mostly people my age or older at the time and more than a few couples. I remember several times bursting out loud in laughter in my understanding of hat you were doing as a filmmaker. Even though it was irritating to some of the audience, especially the couple in front of me. I tried to curb my enjoyment but it was difficult. I felt I was understanding too much to contain it merely by watching.

I tried briefly to explain to the couple in front of me the last time I exclaimed aloud at a particularly excellent shot of yours but they didn't seem to get it. I felt I was seeing what you were doing beyond the story with the references, the homages to Ingmar Bergman, shots that tweaked my mind and memory and instilled in me a sense almost of glee.

However, I didn't get the feeling that day that anyone else in that audience was seeing what I was seeing. But then I had paid attention to cinema, studied it, studied you, and felt I got more than my money's worth that day. And they were probably just there to see a good film.

No, I was not on drugs. I was on a good education, I was on the excitement of seeing beauty in film and motion.

So for that, I thank you. I thank you for all of that and so much more over these many years.

JZ Murdock
Bremerton, WA - April 17, 2017

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