Crimes & Misdemeanors

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Philosophical Issues in Film
Freedom and Responsibility

Crimes and Misdemeanors
In Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the main characters face problems with morals, choices, and personal responsibilities that cloud their lives. There are two storylines that at first don’t seem to mix, but in the end come to an interesting connection when both main characters meet. Both stories are tales of adultery, but one also involves murder, and embezzlement. In the first storyline, Woody Allen’s character, Cliff, is a failing documentary director trapped in a loveless marriage and only finds release from life in the movie theater. Cliff dislikes his wife’s brother Lester who, unfortunately, is hiring Cliff to make a documentary of his successful career. To Cliff, Lester is the embodiment of everything he hates. While filming the documentary, Cliff begins to fall in love with Halley, one of the network producers of Lester’s documentary. At first Cliff sees Halley as someone he can be genuine with and have a real conversation with. They discuss Cliff’s plan for a documentary on a famous philosopher and begin to enjoy each others’ company. After several date, movies and discussions, Cliff realizes he is in love with Halley, but morally trapped by his marriage. According to him, “My heart says one thing, but head says something else.” In the end, Cliff decides to leave his wife for Halley. Unfortunately, Halley has other plans. Halley leaves for business in London and comes back in love with Lester, the man whom she and Cliff spent days making fun of. Her selfish decision leaves Cliff heartbroken and without any relationship, evens a loveless one. The second storyline involves a wealthy ophthalmologist named Judah. Judah has been having an ongoing affair with a woman named Dolores. He finds his morals and decides to end his affair. Dolores has other ideas. She wants Judah to leave his wife and marry her. She begins to blackmail Judah with threats of telling...
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