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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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How We Choose to Distort It

How We Choose to Distort It

Deconstructing Harry

(p.249) 18 How We Choose to Distort It
The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen

Peter J. Bailey

University Press of Kentucky

There is nothing heroic or redemptive about Harry Bloch’s literary art: a former lover whose erotic experience with him Harry has plumbed for his latest novel calls him a “black magician” and his sister characterizes him as “having no center” and “betting everything on physics and pussy.” Allen knew viewers would identify Harry with the bad-Woody of the scandal, and, perhaps for that reason, he has the reprobate fiction writer saved by his art. His writer’s block lifts when, inspired by a dream of an honoring ceremony his characters hold for him, he imagines crafting a story about someone like himself—“a guy who can’t function well in life, but can only function in art.” In his twenty-seventh film, Allen finally dramatized the Modernist affirmation of art as an antidote to life’s confusions, but what his characters have actually redeemed him from is his life—they’ve restored him to the fun-bereft, insularly narcissistic world of his artistic fantasizing, to his barren, antisocial, and loveless world of fiction.

Keywords:   Modernist aesthetics, T. S. Eliot, “art as the intellectual’s religion”, writer’s block, soft focus, Wild Strawberries, Philip Roth, Wild Man Blues, Hemingway, “Snows of Kilimanjaro”

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