Can You Know About Woody Allen's Scandals and Still Enjoy His Films?
Vanity Fair recently published a tease to the upcoming issue of the magazine that will feature an updated full-length article on Mia Farrow's family and the truth about their experiences with film director Woody Allen. A small portion of the story is published online. Whether you're a fan of the director's or not, you've most likely familar with the scandals related to child abuse allegations and his marriage to Farrow's daughter that have followed him for decades.
I remember when the story about the former couple' sordid break-up was revealed in a full-lenth feature story in Vanity Fair in 1992. I was 22 years old, living in London. I had been a die-hard fan of the couple for most of my life. From Hannah and Her Sisters to Purple Rose of Cairo to Crimes and Misdemeanors to Broadway Danny Rose, I had spent much of my youth engrossed in the couple's creative partnership. As a film minor in college, I had rented all his movies and dissected his films. I was a walking Woody Allen encyclopedia. I even slipped my resumé under the door of his production office after arriving in NYC a few years later.
While living in London when the story broke, I caught sight of the media's coverage of the scandal and followed during my time there. I was shocked about the story at hand, written by Maureen Orth. Who couldn't be? Allen had run off with his step-daughter, Soon-Yi, who he eventually married and adopted two children with. Farrow left Allen after she had found he had taken nude photos of the twenty-year-old Soon-Yi, and the story intensified with ugly words tossed between the two women (Soon-Yi suggested that Farrow had always ignored her). But even worse was the fact that Allen may have sexually abused his daughter, Dylan, who was only 7 at the time and who he and Farrow had adopted together.
I remember the shock reading the story from abroad and knew that his image and reputation were about to decline. I promised to remain a fan of his films, no matter what, despite the negative reaction I often got from friends and family about my addiction to his work. Yet I have still spent the last 20 years as a dedicated viewer of his films. I may not make it on opening night as I used to, but that is probably because I now have two young children in my life. While his movies haven't always kept up the caliber they had back then, I still get a lot of pleasure out of them and appreciate his Jewish/New York/neurotic/artistic view of life. I've also been following Farrow''s career over the years, particularly on Twitter where she is very eloquent, and I admire all the human rights work she and her son, Ronan, continue to focus on.
Fast forward and we now have an updated story by Orth in Vanity Fair. She interviewed eight of Farrow’s children, including the long-silent Dylan, who has now spoken on the record for the first time about the alleged incident. The timing could not be worse for Allen, who with the recent box office success of Blue Jasmine seems to be experiencing a rebirth in his career. He has recently been seen at public social events and seems to have just started to break his 20 year silence.
This time, however, Dylan is 20 years older. She confirms the details of her father's molestation accusations, and it's harrowing.
She calls her fears “crippling” and says, “I’m scared of him, his image.” Dylan tells Orth, “I have never been asked to testify. If I could talk to the seven-year-old Dylan, I would tell her to be brave, to testify.”
In addition, Farrow talks about Frank Sinatra, who she dated for many years off and on. When asked point-blank if her biological son with Allen, Ronan, may actually be the son of Frank Sinatra, Farrow answers, “Possibly.” She and Sinatra divorced in 1968, and he would have been about 72 when Ronan was conceived.
The reaction to that part of the story has been mystification. Even Ronan on Twitter wrote "Listen we're all possibly Frank Sinatra's son" and reporters have been placing photos of him and Sinatra side by side wondering if there is any truth to the statement. No DNA tests have reportedly been taken to date and apparently, Frank Sinatra's first wife, Nancy, calls the claim a lie.
You have to wonder if Farrow's trying to make Woody Allen suffer all these years later, although he actually hasn't had much contact with Ronan, Dylan or his other children. After reading the accusations and story behind the 1992 story, it's hard to blaim Farrow. She's been carrying so much pain around and I would also if I were in her shoes.
Because 20 years later, as a woman and a mom, it's harder to read the possible truth about a man I have worshipped my whole life. I have a daughter now who I protect with all my might and my world would be shattered if anyone were to ever touch her. Had it been the man I'd spent much of my personal and professional career with, I do not know how I would manage to go on.
In 1992, I was able to separate Allen's art from his real life, and I will probaby continue to do so. I will most likely remember him for his films and not the sordid scandals quietly lurking in the background.
But now as a mother, it may not be as easy as it once was.