Woody Allen has a great fan club in Iran. We have watched all of his movies here. Iranians, including us, follow Woody Allen’s works and interviews. His views and thoughts are like many of us. Recently he has an interview and said: ” I feel the only way you can get through life is distraction . And you can distract yourself in a million different ways, from turning on the television set and seeing who wins the meaningless soccer game, to going to the movies or listening to music. They’re tricks that I’ve done and that many people do … Life is so much luck. And people are so frightened to admit that. They want to think that they control their life. They think ‘I make my luck’. And you want to keep telling yourself that you’re in control, but you’re not in control. Ninety-nine per cent of it is luck, the luck of the genes, the luck of the draw, what happens during the day, the bomb that goes off on the other guy’s bus “. And about Soon-Yi and his controversial marriage with her, Allen said: “You know, people thought when I first married her that, because of this big age difference, I’d married someone who’d idolize me. But that wasn’t the case at all. She hadn’t seen 90% of my movies, and to this day she hasn’t seen 60% of them. She’s she’s a stern critic of my work. She unashamedly hates my clarinet playing. Can’t bear it. Can’t bear my practicing. Never comes to a concert. Thinks it’s torture!!”
We have watched all of his movies and liked most of them. If we want to make a list of his best movies, it would be a long list: Play It Again, Sam (1972), Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About S-e-x, But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979) , Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), New York ST!O!Ries (1989), Husbands and Wives (1992) , Mighty Aphrodite (1995) , Deconstructing Harry (1997), Celebrity (1998), Hollywood Ending (2002) , Anything Else (2003), Melinda and Melinda (2004), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Whatever Works (2009). In the past years, we have collected an excerpt of his interviews, and it could show how he think and live. In fact, many of his thoughts and views are like ours. We think many of our readers love movie and watch movie, and sharing that excerpt could be interesting for them. so here are that excerpt:
Without any question I think life is tragic . There are oases of comedy within it. But, when the day is done and it’s all over, the news is bad. We come to an unpleasant end … Human existence is a brutal experience to me. it’s a brutal, meaningless experience—an agonizing, meaningless experience with some oases, delight, some charm and peace, but these are just small oases. Overall, it is a brutal, brutal, terrible experience, and so it’s what can you do to alleviate the agony of the human condition, the human predicament? That is what interests me the most. I continue to make the films because the problem obsesses me all the time and it’s consistently on my mind and I’m consistently trying to alleviate the problem, and I think by making films as frequently as I do I get a chance to vent the problems. There is some relief. I have said this before in a facetious way, but it is not so facetious: I am a whiner. I do get a certain amount of solace from whining … My relationship with death remains the same … I am strongly against it. All I can do, though, is write. I was lucky. My parents lived a long time, so maybe that will be good for me, I don’t know, I am a big coward. It’s a no-win proposition because you know what happens? You die. Don’t forget that I’m not a religious person, so you die, and you disintegrate in one way or another-either you’re cremated or you decompose-and you’re gone. That’s it. There’s no other at bat. It’s one strike and you’re out … Getting older has no redeeming quality. I haven’t mellowed, I haven’t gained any wisdom, it’s a bad thing. You don’t wanna get older, it has nothing going for it. The worst thing about getting older is your body breaks down and you’re closer to death. So, you know, that’s an unbeatable combination. There’s nothing good about getting older-absolutely nothing-because the amount of wisdom and experience you gain is negligible compared to what you lose. You do gain a couple of things-you gain a little bittersweet and sour wisdom from your heartbreaks and failures and things-but what you lose is so catastrophic in every way.
There is no justice, there is no rational structure to it. That is just the way it is, and each person figures out some way to cope … Some people cope better than others. I was with Billy Graham once, and he said that even if it turned out in the end that there is no God and the universe is empty, he would still have had a better life than me. I understand that. If you can delude yourself by believing that there is some kind of Santa Claus out there who is going to bail you out in the end, then it will help you get through. Even if you are proven wrong in the end, you would have had a better life … And I feel you can be distracted – you get distracted by your relationships, you get distracted by the meaninglessness of a sporting event, by a movie, by the work that you’re doing that you think is important at the time – I think it’s so important whether my film works or not when in fact it’s completely meaningless, and I think it’s important whether the Giants win the Pennant. And so we distract ourselves, and good distraction is the best we can do. But the overall picture – if they sit you down in a chair and really shove reality in your face – I feel about it the way Freud, Nietzche, Eugene O’Neill felt about it, and that is very pessimistic, but optimistic about this comparatively minor problem in a much grimmer totality. Have I depressed you enough?
One film a year really isn’t a big deal. There’s plenty of time to do all this stuff, and plenty of time for my family and to go to the basketball game and take walks and go to dinner every night … what can you … you need luck. It’s a very, very important part of your life, and you don’t acknowledge that. … I enjoy working. It’s good physical therapy for me-it’s important to get up in the morning and to do something. My grandparents used to get up in the morning and they’d sit and stare out the window all day long and grow old and fat. That’s what they did -they did nothing. And I don’t enjoy that. I get antsy. I like to do stuff. I like to get up and practice music and write something for The New Yorker or work on a script or direct a film. I like to work because it keeps me occupied. What else do you do if you don’t work? When you’re worried about this joke, and this costume, and this wig, and that location, and the dailies, you’re not worried about death and the brevity of life. I watch a lot of baseball on television. I do all that stuff. I’ve got plenty of time to play with my kids-I bring them to school in the morning. I have time to do the treadmill. I have time to practice the clarinet. I have time to go on tour with my jazz band, and take walks with my wife, and still make movies because none of this stuff is rocket science.
I think-and my sister would agree-that I’ve inherited the worst of each parent. I have my father’s hypochondria and lack of concentration. I have his amorality. I have everything bad that he had. Then I have my mother’s surly, pill-like, complaining, whining attitude … They were creatures of the Depression -they would have been thrilled if I had been a pharmacist or something reliable. But I don’t think that I’ve ever fulfilled my promise. I think that I was born lucky with a very good sense of humor and a reasonably good native intelligence. But I should have studied and been bookish. I should have gone to college and become a philosophy major. I should have studied literature. I should have aimed much higher than I aimed … I’d want to play the piano. I mean, I would trade my talent right now, even up, for Bud Powell’s talent. That would be just fine with me … I wanted to be an FBI man, But you have to be five-foot-seven and have 20/20 vision. Then I toyed with becoming a master criminal—but you have to be five-foot-seven and have 20/20 vision”
I’ve never emailed anyone in my life, or received an email. I wouldn’t know how to do that. I have no interest in it. I don’t own a computer, you know, or any of that stuff … I’ve never had a puff of marijuana. I’ve never had cocaine. I’ve never had speed. I’ve never had heroin. I’ve never in my life had a sleeping pill. I don’t have drug curiosity … People ask me whether I think that one day I might wake up one morning and run dry, but I’ve had the opposite feeling – that I would die before I had time to write all the ideas in my drawer. I don’t keep a notebook, but I do jot. I have a drawer full of matchbook covers and napkins and little notes. And some of them seem sensational when I’m jotting them down and then later I can’t imagine what was so exciting about them. And then others actually hold up and become films … I’m not the great artist that I was certain I would be when I was younger. I still delude myself sometimes and think “Well, maybe I’ll get lucky and something will come out like that.” But you know, after 40, 41 films, whatever – you start to realize: it’s just not there. Very often I see the film I’ve made and I’m very disappointed and I think I’ve screwed up the idea or gotten fifty or ninety percent of what I wanted to do but not one hundred.
Ingmar Bergman and I had dinner in his New York hotel suite; it was a great treat for me. I was nervous, I really didn’t want to go. But he was not at all what you might expect: the formidable, dark, brooding genius. He was a regular guy. He commiserated with me about low box-office grosses and women and having to put up with studios. Later, he’d speak to me by phone from his oddball little island [Faro, where Bergman lived his last 40 years]. He confided about his irrational dreams: for instance, that he would show up on the set and not know where to put the camera and be completely panic-stricken. He’d have to wake up and tell himself that he is an experienced, respected direcT!O!R and he certainly does know where to put the camera. But that anxiety was with him long after he had created 15, 20 masterpieces. He was a ladies’ man. He loved relationships with women … When I was younger, every week we’d get a Fellini or a Bergman or a Godard or Truffaut, but now you almost never get any of that.
I have friends – I have very few friends, actually, because I just am not – I’m not good at it. I just have never been good at it … When I finish a film completely, there’s about a half dozen, maybe eight people, that I do want to see the movie. I will invite Diane Keaton. I will invite some personal friends of mine, between six and 10, maximum. And once they’ve seen the picture, I don’t much care any more. That’s the fun that I get: to sit in here with Keaton, or my friends, and amuse or delight them with it. That gives me a kick. After that, it doesn’t matter to me … I always have Scarlett Johansson in mind. [laughs] I’m the president of her fan club. She’s got a great sense of humor. Scarlett is one of the few people who always tops me. Whenever I say something amusing, she always manages to say something quicker-and funnier than what I’ve said-in return … “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” had a long story. I had anything written- Penélope Cruz was in New York and her office called and said she’d like to come over and meet me. So she came by and said, you know, if I’m doing something in Barcelona, then she’d be interested in participating. And, of course, that was a godsend to me because she’s so gifted and so beautiful-I couldn’t get my mind around it when I was talking to her. And then they said that Javier Bardem would also be interested and was available , so I thought to myself, “Okay, I want to make a film in Barcelona.” …. In this particular case, there was a CD that had been delivered to the room with the song “Barcelona” on it. Normally, I just chuck the CDs in a pile and I never really hear them. But because I felt like I had a slightly longer car ride to the location where we were shooting that day, I brought this one along and stuck it in the car just to see what it was like. And, you know, the second I heard the song, I said to the producer who was in the car with me, “I want to get this song and use it in the movie. It’s perfect for what I want.” …. I probably will do a few more films in European cities, as my father would say, “for the simple reason that my wife likes to travel.”. That is one of the reasons that I think of shooting in Europe. Then, another reason is, of course, that these European countries invite me and they make it very appetizing. They put the money in the bank. And they’re not film studios.