WOODY WEDNESDAY Open Letter to Woody Allen on the movie RIFKIN’S FESTIVAL Part 1

Woody Allen On Bergman

Woody Allen On Bergman

Woody Allen Show

Essay on Woody Allen films

(May 15, 1984)

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Harold J. Blackham (1903-2009)

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)

Jacques Monod (1910-1976), Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1965)

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS was written and directed by Woody Allen

Judah has his mistress eliminated through his brother’s underworld connections

Anjelica Huston

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Rifkin’s Festival scene | Chess with the Death

September 1, 2021

Woody Allen c/o Grove Atlantic, Inc.

154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10011

Dear Mr. Woody Allen,

Let me quote from one scene of RIFKIN’S FESTIVAL:

Mort Rifkin: All I know is my wife and I have split up and my life has come up empty. It is meaningless.

Death: Don’t confuse the two. It has no meaning for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it has to be empty.
—-

In the article below Crux points out:

If Allen ever felt Judah’s burning angst and conflict over the prospect of the emptiness of a universe without God, to all appearances it seems that particular fire in his soul has long since been extinguished. Yet he can’t stop raking through the cold ashes, as if searching for a spark that’s no longer there. Would he be happy to find a spark? Or does he just want to keep reliving the ritual of extinguishing it?

I would agree with the Humanist HJBlackham that your point of view:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. IH. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).


Raking through the ashes of unbelief: Woody Allen’s lost spark

SDGORIGINAL SOURCE: Crux

Woody Allen keeps telling us God is dead, but he also keeps compulsively burying him.

For about three-quarters of his almost 40-year career, Allen has explored existential questions regarding the question of God’s existence or nonexistence and its implications for the meaning of life or its meaninglessness. Allen’s latest such film, Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, was recently released on home video.

Although his atheism was touched on in earlier films, Allen first explored these themes with a vengeance in his 1975 film Love and Death, a satire of Russian literature by way of European art film, with overtones of Dostoyevsky and Ingmar Bergman.

Setting the tone for his subsequent films, Love and Death essentially converged with various themes in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) by suggesting that if God does not exist, life is empty and moral questions are meaningless. “What if there is no God?” Allen’s character Boris frets. “What if we’re just a bunch of absurd people who are running around with no rhyme or reason?”

“If there is no God, then life has no meaning,” replies Diane Keaton’s Sonja. “Why go on living? Why not just kill yourself?”

“Well, let’s not get hysterical,” Boris responds with typically Allenesque diffidence. “I could be wrong. I’d hate to blow my brains out and then read in the papers they found something.”

Allen returned to these themes in Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), possibly his most existentially serious film, and his bleakest. Martin Landau plays a wealthy ophthalmologist named Judah Rosenthal whose respectable, amiable persona masks a darker, purely selfish reality. A longtime philanderer, Judah is ultimately driven to have his mistress murdered to prevent her from revealing his various indiscretions, financial as well as sexual.

For a time, Judah is haunted by an intolerable sense of his own guilt in God’s eyes, of having gone against the fabric of existence itself. But then he turns a corner and finds that the sun is shining and he has gotten away with it — and that he can live with this after all.

Interwoven with this story is a farcical, mostly unrelated tale involving Allen as an independent filmmaker and Alan Alda as a cretinous television producer. Allen later came to feel that this subplot detracts from the more serious central story, and attempted to correct this artistic misstep in Match Point (2005), starring Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Myers.

Match Point reprises the themes of infidelity, fear of exposure and murder, compounding them with a brilliant plot twist in which chance, and therefore God, is given a golden opportunity to punish Rhys-Myers’ character Chris for his sins. Instead, the very twist of fate that should have condemned Chris winds up exonerating him.

On paper, it’s a pure distillation of the existential heart of Crimes and Misdemeanors — except that what’s missing is precisely the earlier film’s tortured existential conflict. Judah Rosenthal writhed under the burden of guilt and divine displeasure until he arrived at the liberation of nihilism. Chris is a pure narcissist from the outset, with no religion or even religious baggage to lose and no similar struggle on the path to nihilistic complacency. A late scene in which Chris calmly ponders the existential implications of his own actions comes out of nowhere, and lacks the urgency and angst of Judah’s struggles. It’s a film with a great twist, but no soul.

Allen’s latest, Magic in the Moonlight, continues this downward trajectory. Firth’s character Stanley is a supercilious atheist outspokenly convinced of the emptiness of the universe and the pointlessness of human existence. A rough contemporary and peer of Harry Houdini, Stanley is a stage magician with a side line in debunking spiritualists, but finds his skepticism shaken by the seemingly inexplicable psychic displays of Stone’s young American mystic.

Unlike Match PointMagic in the Moonlight is a movie with no twists and no surprises. As Allen’s latest cinematic avatar, Stanley is a nihilistic jerk, but also, tellingly, a brilliant showman who sees through everyone and everything, including God. If his skepticism is shaken, it’s only a speed bump on his way to becoming that insufferable guy at a party who tells you he’s never wrong, except that one time when he mistakenly thought he was.

If Allen ever felt Judah’s burning angst and conflict over the prospect of the emptiness of a universe without God, to all appearances it seems that particular fire in his soul has long since been extinguished. Yet he can’t stop raking through the cold ashes, as if searching for a spark that’s no longer there. Would he be happy to find a spark? Or does he just want to keep reliving the ritual of extinguishing it?

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I love that you discuss so many philosophers in your movies! I was introduced to them by my philosophical hero Francis Schaeffer. It was on May 15, 1994 (the 10th anniversary of that date) that I made a concerted effort to write hundreds of secular scholars that he had mentioned in his books and films that he produced since the 1960’s. Not only did Schaeffer mention Woody in several of his books but about a year ago  a video was posted on You Tube that showed that Schaeffer mentioned Woody in his last public speech. If you go to You Tube and type in FRANCIS SCHAEFFER KNOXVILLE then you can watch this special Q&A time with Francis and Edith Schaeffer at the 1984 L’Abri conference in Knoxville, filmed two months before Dr. Schaeffer’s passing (May 15, 1984). There is one portion of this question and answer time that I have put in a letter in December of 2015 and sent to about 100 prominent atheistic scholars who consider themselves OPTIMISTIC HUMANISTS and I challenge them to watch the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and that portion is below:

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H. J. Blackham was the founder of the BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION and he asserted:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

With that in mind I wanted to ask you what  does the AMERICAN or BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION have to offer in the area of meaning and values? Francis Schaeffer two months before he died said if he was talking to a gentleman he was sitting next to on an airplane about Christ he wouldn’t start off quoting Bible verses. Schaeffer asserted:

I would go back rather to their dilemma if they hold the modern worldview of the final reality only being energy, etc., I would start with that. I would begin as I stress in the book THE GOD WHO IS THERE about their own [humanist] prophets who really show where their view goes. For instance, Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize winner from France, in his book NECESSITY AND CHANCE said there is no way to tell the OUGHT from the IS. In other words, you live in a totally silent universe. 

The men like Monod and Sartre or whoever the man might know that is his [humanist] prophet and they point out quite properly and conclusively what life is like, not just that there is no meaningfulness in life but everyone according to modern man is just living out some kind of game plan. It may be knocking 1/10th of a second off a downhill ski run or making one more million dollars. But all you are doing is making a game plan within the mix of a meaningless situation. WOODY ALLEN exploits this very strongly in his films. He really lives it. I feel for that man, and he has expressed it so thoroughly in ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN and so on.

According to the Humanist worldview Jacques Monod the universe is silent about values and therefore his good friend Woody Allen demonstrated this very fact so well in his 1989 movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. In other words, if we can’t get our values from the Bible then  the answer is MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!

I CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE 90 MINUTES AND WATCH THE MOVIE “CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS” AND THEN ANSWER THE QUESTION: “What reason is there that Judah should not have his mistress eliminated if there is no God and afterlife of judgment and rewards?”

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Many of these humanists are familiar  with Woody’s films and I hope some at least are willing to take on my challenge. In fact, I have been writing letters with this message for over 20 years now, and one of the first humanist scholars had the opportunity to correspond with was the famous atheist Antony Flew. Since then I have more articles posted on my blog about the last few years of Antony Flew’s life than any other website in the world probably. The reason is very simple. I had the opportunity to correspond with Antony Flew back in the middle 90’s and he said that he had the opportunity to listen to several of the cassette tapes that I sent him with messages from Adrian Rogers and he also responded to several of the points I put in my letters that I got from Francis Schaeffer’s materials. The ironic thing was that I purchased the sermon IS THE BIBLE TRUE? originally from the Bellevue Baptist Church Bookstore in 1992 and in the same bookstore in 2008 I bought the book THERE IS A GOD by Antony Flew. Back in 1993 I decided to contact some of the top secular thinkers of our time and I got my initial list of individuals from those scholars that were mentioned in the works of both Francis Schaeffer and Adrian Rogers. Schaeffer had quoted Flew in his book ESCAPE FROM REASON. It was my opinion after reviewing the evidence that Antony Flew was the most influential atheistic philosopher of the 20th century.

Woody in his famous satirical article SPEECH TO THE GRADUATES wrote, “My good friend Jacques Monod spoke often of the randomness of the cosmos. He believed everything in existence occurred by pure chance with the possible exception of his breakfast, which he felt certain was made by his housekeeper.” Wouldn’t it be more logical to believe that we were put here for a purpose and that universe was fine tuned for us? 

The Fine Tuning Argument for the Existence of God fromAntony Flew!

Imagine entering a hotel room on your next vacation. The CD player on the bedside table is softly playing a track from your favorite recording. The framed print over the bed is identical to the image that hangs over the fireplace at home. The room is scented with your favorite fragrance…You step over to the minibar, open the door, and stare in wonder at the contents. Your favorite beverage. Your favorite cookies and candy. Even the brand of bottled water you prefer…You notice the book on the desk: it’s the latest volume by your favorite author…

Chances are, with each new discovery about your hospitable new environment, you would be less inclined to think it has all a mere coincidence, right? You might wonder how the hotel managers acquired such detailed information about you. You might marvel at their meticulous preparation. You might even double-check what all this is going to cost you. But you would certainly be inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.113-4

The question now becomes do you want to know if there is a God or not? Are you willing to examine the same evidence that I provided to the world’s leading atheistic philosopher in 1994 (Antony Flew) and take time to listen to this short CD I have enclosed?

Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop in their book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? Chapter 5 concerning the accuracy of the Bible:

Ahab’s line did not last long and was brutally overthrown by a man called Jehu. As one walks toward the Assyrian section in the British Museum, one of the first exhibits to be seen is the famous Black Obelisk. This stands about six feet high and was discovered at Nimrud (Calah) near the Assyrian capital at Nineveh. It describes how King Shalmeneser III compelled Jehu to submit to his authority and to pay him tribute. Here one can see a representation of the kneeling figure of either Jehu or his envoy before the Assyrian king. The inscription tells of Jehu’s submission: “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king and purukhti fruits.”

Jehu is referred to by the Assyrian records as a son of Omri, not because he was literally his son, but because he was on the throne which had been occupied previously by the house of Omri. This event took place about 841 B.C.

Putting them all together, these archaeological records show not only the existence historically of the people and events recorded in the Bible but the great accuracy of the details involved.

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.comhttp://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002 United States

Match point Trailer

Match point

Crimes and misdemeanors

Part 2

Part 3

Woody commenting on Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris trailer

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The mass media turned Picasso into a celebrity, and the public deprived him of privacy and wanted to know his every step, but his later art was given very little attention and was regarded as no more than the hobby of an aging genius who could do nothing but talk about himself in his pictures. Picasso’s late works are an expression of his final refusal to fit into categories. He did whatever he wanted in art and did not arouse a word of criticism.

With his adaptation of “Las Meninas” by Velászquez and his experiments with Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, was Picasso still trying to discover something new, or was he just laughing at the public, its stupidity and its inability to see the obvious.

A number of elements had become characteristic in his art of this period: Picasso’s use of simplified imagery, the way he let the unpainted canvas shine through, his emphatic use of lines, and the vagueness of the subject. In 1956, the artist would comment, referring to some schoolchildren: “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”

In the last years of his life, painting became an obsession with Picasso, and he would date each picture with absolute precision, thus creating a vast amount of similar paintings — as if attempting to crystallize individual moments of time, but knowing that, in the end, everything would be in vain.

The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes. The second post looked at the question: WAS THERE EVER A GOLDEN AGE AND DID THE MOST TALENTED UNIVERSAL MEN OF THAT TIME FIND TRUE SATISFACTION DURING IT?

In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is  only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.

The fourth post looks at the solution of WINE, WOMEN AND SONG and the fifth and sixth posts look at the solution T.S.Eliotfound in the Christian Faith and how he left his fragmented message of pessimism behind. In the seventh post the SURREALISTS say that time and chance is all we have but how can that explain love or art and the hunger for God? The eighth  post looks at the subject of DEATH both in Ecclesiastes and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the ninth post we look at the nihilistic worldview of Woody Allen and why he keeps putting suicides into his films.

In the tenth post I show how Woody Allen pokes fun at the brilliant thinkers of this world and how King Solomon did the same thing 3000 years ago. In the eleventh post I point out how many of Woody Allen’s liberal political views come a lack of understanding of the sinful nature of man and where it originated. In the twelfth post I look at the mannishness of man and vacuum in his heart that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God.

In the thirteenth post we look at the life of Ernest Hemingway as pictured in MIDNIGHT AND PARIS and relate it to the change of outlook he had on life as the years passed. In the fourteenth post we look at Hemingway’s idea of Paris being a movable  feast. The fifteenth and sixteenth posts both compare Hemingway’s statement, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know…”  with Ecclesiastes 2:18 “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” The seventeenth post looks at these words Woody Allen put into Hemingway’s mouth,  “We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all.”

In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Hemingway and Gil Pender talk about their literary idol Mark Twain and the eighteenth post is summed up nicely by Kris Hemphill‘swords, “Both Twain and [King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes] voice questions our souls long to have answered: Where does one find enduring meaning, life purpose, and sustainable joy, and why do so few seem to find it? The nineteenth post looks at the tension felt both in the life of Gil Pender (written by Woody Allen) in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and in Mark Twain’s life and that is when an atheist says he wants to scoff at the idea THAT WE WERE PUT HERE FOR A PURPOSE but he must stay face the reality of  Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” and  THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING! Therefore, the secular view that there is no such thing as love or purpose looks implausible. The twentieth post examines how Mark Twain discovered just like King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes that there is no explanation  for the suffering and injustice that occurs in life UNDER THE SUN. Solomon actually brought God back into the picture in the last chapter and he looked  ABOVE THE SUN for the books to be balanced and for the tears to be wiped away.

The twenty-first post looks at the words of King Solomon, Woody Allen and Mark Twain that without God in the picture our lives UNDER THE SUN will accomplish nothing that lasts. Thetwenty-second post looks at King Solomon’s experiment 3000 years that proved that luxuries can’t bring satisfaction to one’s life but we have seen this proven over and over through the ages. Mark Twain lampooned the rich in his book “The Gilded Age” and he discussed  get rich quick fever, but Sam Clemens loved money and the comfort and luxuries it could buy. Likewise Scott Fitzgerald  was very successful in the 1920’s after his publication of THE GREAT GATSBY and lived a lavish lifestyle until his death in 1940 as a result of alcoholism.

In the twenty-third post we look at Mark Twain’s statement that people should either commit suicide or stay drunk if they are “demonstrably wise” and want to “keep their reasoning faculties.” We actually see this play out in the film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with the character Zelda Fitzgerald. In the twenty-fourthtwenty-fifth and twenty-sixth posts I look at Mark Twain and the issue of racism. In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS we see the difference between the attitudes concerning race in 1925 Paris and the rest of the world.

The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth posts are summing up Mark Twain. In the 29th post we ask did MIDNIGHT IN PARIS accurately portray Hemingway’s personality and outlook on life? and in the 30th post the life and views of Hemingway are summed up.

In the 31st post we will observe that just like Solomon Picasso slept with many women. Solomon actually slept with  over 1000 women ( Eccl 2:8, I Kings 11:3), and both men ended their lives bitter against all women and in the 32nd post we look at what happened to these former lovers of Picasso. In the 33rd post we see that Picasso  deliberately painted his secular  worldview of fragmentation on his canvas but he could not live with the loss of humanness and he reverted back at crucial points and painted those he loved with all his genius and with all their humanness!!! In the 34th post  we notice that both Solomon in Ecclesiastes and Picasso in his painting had an obsession with the issue of their impending death!!!

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Related posts:

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December 23, 2015 – 4:15 am

Woody Allen believes that we live in a cold, violent and meaningless universe and it seems that his main character (Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson) in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS shares that view. Pender’s meeting with the Surrealists is by far the best scene in the movie because they are ones who can […]

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December 16, 2015 – 4:56 am

In the last post I pointed out how King Solomon in Ecclesiastes painted a dismal situation for modern man in life UNDER THE SUN  and that Bertrand Russell, and T.S. Eliot and  other modern writers had agreed with Solomon’s view. However, T.S. Eliot had found a solution to this problem and put his faith in […]

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In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Gil Pender ponders the advice he gets from his literary heroes from the 1920’s. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes painted a dismal situation for modern man in life UNDER THE SUN  and many modern artists, poets, and philosophers have agreed. In the 1920’s T.S.Eliot and his  house guest Bertrand Russell were two of […]

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