“Woody Wednesday” Discussion of Woody Allen’s 1989 movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Part 1)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1

Uploaded by on Sep 23, 2007

Part 1 of 3: ‘What Does Judah Believe?’
A discussion of Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, perhaps his finest.
By Anton Scamvougeras.

http://camdiscussion.blogspot.com/
antons@mail.ubc.ca

_____________

Today I am starting a discusssion of the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Woody Allen. This 1989 movie was Allen’s best in my view.

DISCUSSING FILMS AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS
By Everette Hatcher III

“Existential subjects to me are still the only subjects worth dealing with. I don’t think that one can aim more deeply than at the so-called existential themes, the spiritual themes.” WOODY ALLEN

Evangelical Chuck Colson has observed that it used to be true that most Americans knew the Bible. Evangelists could simply call on them to repent and return. But today, most people lack understanding of biblical terms or concepts. Colson recommends that we first attempt to find common ground to engage people’s attention. That then may open a door to discuss spiritual matters.

Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is an excellent icebreaker concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.

Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt May

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.

The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)

Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)

The secularist can only give incomplete answers to these questions: How could you have convinced Judah not to kill? On what basis could you convince Judah it was wrong for him to murder?

As Christians, we would agree with Judah ‘s father that “The eyes of God are always upon us.” Proverbs 5:21 asserts, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Revelation 20:12 states, “…And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books” (Amplified Version). The Bible is revealed truth from God. It is the basis for our morality. Judah inherited the Jewish ethical values of the Ten Commandments from his father, but, through years of life as a skeptic, his standards had been lowered. Finally, we discover that Judah ‘s secular version of morality does not resemble his father’s biblically-based morality.

Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS forces unbelievers to grapple with the logical conclusions of a purely secular morality. It opens a door for Christians to find common ground with those whom they attempt to share Christ; we all have to deal with personal morality issues. However, the secularist has no basis for asserting that Judah is wrong.

Larry King actually mentioned on his show, LARRY KING LIVE, that Chuck Colson had discussed the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with him. Colson asked King if life was just a Darwinian struggle where the ruthless come out on top. Colson continued, “When we do wrong, is that our only choice? Either live tormented by guilt, or else kill our conscience and live like beasts?” (BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY, “Finding Common Ground,” September 14, 1993)

Later, Colson noted that discussing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with King presented the perfect opportunity to tell him about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Colson believes the Lord is working on Larry King. How about your neighbors? Is there a way you can use a movie to find common ground with your lost friends and then talk to them about spiritual matters?

(Caution: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is rated PG-13. It does include some adult themes.)

Related posts:

Discussion of Woody Allen’s 1989 movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Part 1)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 Uploaded by camdiscussion on Sep 23, 2007 Part 1 of 3: ‘What Does Judah Believe?’ A discussion of Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, perhaps his finest. By Anton Scamvougeras. http://camdiscussion.blogspot.com/ antons@mail.ubc.ca _____________ Today I am starting a discusssion of the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Woody Allen. This 1989 […]

Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” wins an academy award (link to complete listing of all historical figures mentioned in “Midnight in Paris”)

Sleepers (1973)   Allen (left) wrote, directed and starred in this oddball love story, set 200 years in the future.  It was his first on-screen collaboration with Diane Keaton (second left), who went on to become one of the director’s muses in the early days of his career.   ___________ I have written more on […]

Can we learn from Woody Allen Films? (Part 2)

Looking at the (sometimes skewed) morality of Woody Allen’s best films. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Allen continues the art-as-salvation theme in Hannah and Her Sisters, an ensemble drama about family and infidelity. The film tells three stories, one of which stars Allen as a hypochondriac named Mickey. Terrified of death, Mickey begins a search […]

Chris Martin of Coldplay unknowingly lives out his childhood Christian beliefs (Part 3 of notes from June 23, 2012 Dallas Coldplay Concert, Martin left Christianity because of teaching on hell then he writes bestselling song that teaches hell exists)

Viva La Vida Published on Jun 23, 2012 by TheRyanj64 Coldplay’s Viva La Vida at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22, 2012 __________ Coldplay brought confetti, lights and thousands of fans to the American Airlines Center; see photos from their colorful show Photo Gallery News Sports Lifestyles   Comments (0)   5/11 Chris […]

“Woody Wednesdays” Woody Allen on God and Death

Good website on Woody Allen How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter? If Jesus Christ came back today and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up. If only God would give me some clear […]

Michelangelo Antonioni influenced Woody Allen and was discussed by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer discussed modern films and how they showed the state of man. That is why I like Woody Allen’s films so much. He knows what the big issues are in life and even though he present the right answers he does grapple with the right questions. Michelangelo Antonioni heavily influenced Allen and below is […]

Review of “To Rome with Love”

Jesse Eisenberg – Press Conference “To Rome With Love” Published on Apr 21, 2012 by portugal888 Review: Allen’s ‘Rome’ delivers lackluster love Published: Tuesday, June 19 2012 11:06 a.m. MDT By David Germain View 4 photos » This film image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows, : Alec Baldwin as John, left, and Jesse Eisenberg […]

Woody Allen, ‘To Rome With Love’ Director, Talks ‘Midnight In Paris’ Success, Acting Career

How To Recover From a Break Up With Greta Gerwig Published on May 16, 2012 by younghollywood Young Hollywood is hanging out in NYC during the Tribeca film festival, where we chat with rising star Greta Gerwig about her hip slice-of-life movie, ‘Lola Versus’. Greta offers up some advice on how to get over a […]

June 14, 2012 Wall Street Journal interview of Woody Allen and he is still talking about the meaninglessness of existence

TO ROME WITH LOVE – conferenza stampa con Allen, Benigni e Cruz http://WWW.RBCASTING.COM Published on Apr 18, 2012 by RBcasting http://www.rbcasting.com Conferenza stampa del film “To Rome With Love”, scritto e diretto da Woody Allen. Tra gli interpreti, lo stesso Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page e Greta […]

Woody Allen’s worldview as seen in his movies

  I love the movie Crimes and Misdemeanors and have written on it many times in the past. This quote below sums up Woody Allen’s worldview which I disagree with. In fact, the person who said this actually could not live with its conclusions in the movie and committed suicide.   Because Allen continues to […]

Atheists have no basis for saying that Hitler was wrong!!!!!

On April 30, 2012 (67 years after Hitler killed himself) I stated on the Arkansas Times Blog: Hitler’s last few moments of life were filled with anxiety as they should have been. He went on to face his maker and pay dearly for his many sins. When I look at the never before released pictures […]

“Woody Wednesday” Will Allen and Martin follow same path as Kansas to Christ?

Several members of the 70′s band Kansas became committed Christians after they realized that the world had nothing but meaningless to offer. It seems through the writings of both Woody Allen and Chris Martin of Coldplay that they both are wrestling with the issue of death and what meaning does life bring. Kansas went through […]

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: