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Happy birthday, Woody.

Blast from the recent past, to honor Woody Allen, who turns 75 today: Fr. Robert Lauder's April interview with the director.

RL: When Ingmar Bergman died, you said even if you made a film as great as one of his, what would it matter? It doesnt gain you salvation. So you had to ask yourself why do you continue to make films. Could you just say something about what you meant by salvation?WA: Well, you know, you want some kind of relief from the agony and terror of human existence. Human existence is a brutal experience to meits a brutal, meaningless experiencean 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 its 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 its consistently on my mind and Im 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.

Read the rest here.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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People like Woody Allen make me so mad at the Vatican sometimes. I mean when the Vatican talks as if all the godless are just narcissistic, relativistic, shallow, selfish, insincere, spiritually bankrupt, you-name-it no-goodniks. Sure, everyone has faults, but . . .

Ann OlivierI am with you. What a rich interview. The crux for me:RL: Are you saying the humor in your films is a relief for you? Or are you sort of saying to the audience, Here is an oasis, a couple of laughs?WA: I think what Im saying is that Im really impotent against the overwhelming bleakness of the universe and that the only thing I can do is my little gift and do it the best I can, and that is about the best I can do, which is cold comfort.We are all impotent against the overwhelming bleakness and those who revel in spreading it. What do people who lack a sense of humor? Is no comfort better than cold comfort?

The Vatican cannot it seems get out of its empire mode. It stresses rule and dominance over proclamation. It will note how Catholic people are killed and be silent about so many others who are massacred. WWII a terrible example. Allen shows how empty one can be without God while the Vatican proffers God but sounds the same emptiness. Allen shows that he lacks the peace the world cannot give while the Vatican has forgotten what that peace is and insists that the answer is membership in the church even though the members fail in loving one another. It is membership, especially obedience to the magisterium that matters not the peace that surpasses all understanding. Allen demonstrates the need. We have to share the answers with each other.

I thank God for Woody Allen. But what a tragedy that he sees life only as "a brutal, meaningless experience". And then what a travesty that that is what produces these lovely movies.

The Vatican? Seriously?

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