Woody Allen CRISIS IN SIX SCENES

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Crisis in Six Scenes S01E01 CZ titulky

Something about television brings out the nostalgist in Woody Allen (well, y’know, even more than usual), and understandably – it’s a medium inextricably tied to his own early days. He got his start as a staff writer for The Colgate Comedy Hour, Sid Caesar specials, and sitcoms like The Gary Moore Show; in his stand-up and early (comic) filmmaking days, he was a fixture on Jack Paar, Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavett, and Merv Griffin’s shows, and even had a couple of prime-time specials. But after his Nixon-baiting Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story was yanked from PBS, he swore off the medium, and mostly stuck to his guns. His last major television project was a 1994 TV movie adaptation of his hit ‘60s play Don’t Drink the Water, in which he was now old enough to play the harried patriarch confounded by his times. [13]

 

-Woody Allen’s six-episode miniseries for Amazon, “Crisis in Six Scenes,” which runs just less than two and a half hours in total, is, in effect, his “American Pastoral.” Like Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, it’s a vision (a comedic one, where Roth’s is tragic) of a liberal suburban household, in the late nineteen-sixties, that’s thrown into turmoil by a young woman who commits an act of political terrorism. It has the virtues and the faults of Allen’s later films—which is to say that his ideas come to the fore in sharp focus, sketched with clear and decisive lines, but sometimes the sketchiness detaches them from the context of lived experience and turns them merely assertive and hermetic. [1]

 

-In “Crisis,” Allen writes himself back, in current form, into an time in which he was actually already anachronistic. Allen made his great breakthrough, with “Annie Hall,” not at the beginning of an era but at its end. He was already older than forty; he had twenty years of show biz behind him, and his nineteen-sixties weren’t an age of protest and activism but of trying to establish himself, tooth and nail, as the filmmaker that he had decided to become. “Crisis in Six Scenes” starkly conveys the wistful—yet not regretful—sense that his sixties were secondhand and spectatorial. [1]

 

-Above all, however, the core of the series is the secondhand experience not of the sixties as action but of the sixties as political rhetoric. It isn’t only Alan and Kay who are transformed by Lennie’s presence. Kay also delivers the political literature to the members of her book club, mainly elderly women, who become comically enthusiastic acolytes of violent revolution, spouting Mao’s aphorisms and eagerly, if obliviously, anticipating bloodshed. [1]

 

-This readiness of many people to fall for the virtuous-sounding but hollow, reckless, dangerous, and destructive rhetoric of dictatorial revolutionaries is the very through-line of the series. [1]

 

-Allen presents his Sid as the one sane man who, despite—or rather, because of—his neurotic inhibitions and practical artistic ambitions and ideals, remains invulnerable to such flights of grandiose and vapid thinking. As a portrait of the sixties, this relentless satire of revolutionary action serves to justify the course of Allen’s own ideas and activity, even as he hints at admiration for the fervor and daring of the revolutionaries themselves [1]

 

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