Saturday, May 8, 2010

Delightful Escapist Thing

You are in this horrible world and for an hour and a half you duck into a dark room and it’s air-conditioned and the sun is not blinding you and you leave the terror of the universe behind and you are completely transported into an escapist situation. The women are beautiful, the men are witty and heroic, nobody has terrible problems and this is a delightful escapist thing, and you leave the theatre refreshed. It’s like drinking a cool lemonade and then after a while you get worn down again and you need it again. It seems to me that making escapist films might be a better service to people than making intellectual ones and making films that deal with issues. It might be better to just make escapist comedies that don’t touch on any issues.

Woody Allen, on the importance of humor


  1. Undoubtedly a better service to most people. But I hope he continues to occasionally yield -- as he has, preeminently, with Cassandra's Dream -- to the inspiration of the Nietzschean rejoinder (eg. Twilight of the Idols, "Skirmishes", 24), fittingly expressed by Haneke: "All important artworks, especially those concerned with the darker side of experience, despite whatever despair conveyed, transcend the discomfort of the content in the realization of their form."

  2. To be honest, I could totally commit to this approach, the day after OPERATION:WORLDWIDE STERILIZATION was consummated. And why not? With procreation out of the picture, one last generation of the grand ol' life-lie doesn't seem nearly as appalling.

  3. Considered as one of Woody Allen's three sustained experiments in "Nietzschean rejoinder" (the others being Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point), I found Cassandra's Dream to be curiously -- and perhaps intentionally -- flat. Where Match Point lures the viewer into empathizing with a modern Raskolnikov, the similar scenario depicted in Cassandra's Dream seems to play out like an oracle's tale, where each sequence seems to follow in fated course and the characters might as well be by marionettes. I liked the film very much for this reason -- I suspected that Allen was trying to strip the moral theater down to the fiber and see what was left.

  4. Chip, your excellent characterization of Cassandra's Dream gives me second thoughts about mine, making me wonder if the film is not rather a Schopenhauerian exercise designed to ultimately elicit a sense of detachment. I'm pulled, however, by the idea that our absorption as viewers of such proceedings should escalate to some kind of identification with the lofty vantage of its creator, affirmatively ranged over, rather than submerged by, them. But perhaps I'm just being desperate.

  5. From Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted May 3-6, 2010:

    Doctor Assisted Suicide:
    morally acceptable, 46%
    morally wrong, 46%

    morally acceptable, 15%
    morally wrong, 77%



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