Crimes and Misdemeanors
by Ciro Discepolo
Like on the parallel of the characters of F\EBdor Michailovič
Dostoevskij of the ultra note Crime and Punishment, the ones of one of the most beautiful
Woody Allen's movies, interlace themselves into an event that seems to have,
as background, the eternal question "Does the crime pay?", but that,
really, it goes indeed farther then the lacerations of the young student killer
Raskolnikov of the Russian playwright to put us in front of a whole series of
interrogatives of an ample existential breath, like the reason of life, God's
existence, the "interior voices" and many other things.
In this movie of Mia Farrow's ex partner, interlace themselves or they seem to interlace themselves two parallel stories, in fact, one hundred parallel stories that have in common, among them, only one thing: sight. Actually the movie is nothing else but a long, interlaced, very didactic metaphor on sight. The sinistrorse New Yorker movie director Cliff Stern seems to find a perfect identity of views with a young woman producer, Hally Reed (Mia Farrow). Together, in a dichotomic way, make their existences flow on a very long interview to an old philosopher Levy (in Allen there is always and declaredly the recall to his Jewish origins) that speaks about life and love while the doctor Jekyll's part in them shoots a celebrative documentary, on commission, that narrates the life of a young, brilliant, handsome, fascinating and stupid Hollywoodian producer Woody's brother in law, of which his marriage story is falling a part.
On the other side of the movie, we can say "parallel", is the one of doctor Judah Rosenthal (almost all the characters of this film are obsessively presented like Jews). Judah speaks during a party in his honour, in a luxury New Yorker restaurant and says that if he was able to help obtain, for the hospital of which he is the head of a department, the necessary funds to open an ophthalmology department, probably it is in relation with, excavating with Freud into his unconscious, to a phrase that his father, very religious, often repeated to him: "God's eyes are on us always". And it is exactly the sight that makes the conductor story in this movie that I love a lot.
Judah that is an optician and should measure the sight of others, wears glasses and is not aware of reality that is around him.
The doctor starts a love relation with an hysterical woman that threatens to tell everything to his wife and destroying him professionally. Then Judah first speaks with a rabbi, who says that it is necessary to look into ones own heart (but, in the meanwhile, he is becoming blind). After he speaks with his brother, a gangster, that "sees exactly the reality", and that advises him to kill his lover.
The links to the sight, to God's eyes, to see, are continuous, didactic, almost obsessive: Judah's high beam car lights that returns at the crime scene, the same light that strikes the optician while he is coming out of a tunnel, the fact that for the entire movie the doctor wears glasses and after he takes them off at the same moment in which the rabbi has become completely blind.
The director Stern continues to see reality like a fiction, going to the cinema by day and watching, behind a movie camera his professor Levy that gives lessons on life (do you remember Erich Fromm that speaks to us of the modern man, in "Psychoanalysis of the Contemporaneous Society", unable to see every landscape if in front of his own eyes there is not a camera or a video camera?). In the end of the movie the professor kills himself, after having spoken for an entire life of love, leaving a laconic message: "I am going out of the window".
Stern is fired because he compares his character with Mussolini in the act to inhale his breathe with his nose and putting chest out and hands on hips ("If it bends itself then you will make others laugh, if it breaks itself you will not make others laugh ").
Stern separates himself from his wife that from a long time has a lover and, at the end of the movie, like around a circus track of Fellini's memory, we will find again all the characters that we should call "ugly, dirty and bad" and that instead we see them masked in their smoking and very precious evening dresses.
Everyone makes a toast and smiles to a marriage ceremony.
Here Stern realizes that Hally Reed is engaged with the producer that is able to buy anything and discovers that watching life without the fiction's filter is very hard, so hard to think of suicide.
Like in the novel of Russian playwright, in this beautiful Woody Allen's movie, the characters continue to ask themselves if crime pays or doesn't pay. Judah that did not sleep for months, after he commissioned the murder of his lover, says that one morning he woke up, saw the Sun, thought to God, told himself that he was happy to see the whole world, in the way that it is made, and he restarted to live.
Transalted from Italian: Ciro Discepolo and Anna Carmela Mellone.
Under this script you can see the natal sky of Woody Allen, born in New York on December 1°, 1935, at 22.55: we recognize, in it, many sight references.