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The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen$
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Peter J. Bailey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167190

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167190.001.0001

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Art and Idealization

Art and Idealization

I’ll Fake Manhattan

(p.45) 4 Art and Idealization
The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen

Peter J. Bailey

University Press of Kentucky

The central cinematic tension that this chapter locates in Allen’s Manhattanexists between its deliberately idealized visualizations of New York City and the trivial romantic entanglements of the Manhattanites portrayed in the film. Allen and cinematographer Gordon Willis open the movie with a montage of cityscapes to which protagonist Isaac Davis attempts to provide a correspondingly dramatic monologue of self-introduction, but his life can rise to neither the images nor the lush Gershwin score, and the film oscillates between the grandeur of what Isaac designates as “my town” and the characters’ unethical attempts to secure for themselves erotic gratification. In Manhattan, art can raise physical reality to levels of stunning beauty, but its creators are consistently morally unworthy of the idealizations it projects.

Keywords:   idealization, falsification, artistic reconciliation, God’s answer to Job, September/May relationships, surface/substance antinomy

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