Allen V Farrow’s first episode covers a wide story arc, including Mia Farrow and Woody Allen’s relationship, their family and unconventional living conditions, the discovery of his affair with Mia’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. , and Allen’s allegations of sexual abuse of Dylan. Farrow, then seven years old.
This article covers episode 1 of Allen V Farrow, and contains some descriptions of child sexual abuse. The reader’s discretion is advised.
A day after the first episode of the new Kirby Dick-Amy Ziering directed Allen V Farrow released, Woody Allen and his wife Soon Yi Previn blasted the four HBO documentary series as “ax work.” They accused the filmmakers of “collaborating with the Farrows and their facilitators” to broadcast “categorically false allegations.”
The response is in line with much of the talk surrounding Allen and the Farrows since August 1992, when Mia Farrow accused Woody Allen, her 12-year-old partner, of sexually abusing their adopted daughter Dylan, then seven. At the same time, it emerged that Allen was in a sexual relationship with Mia’s adopted daughter (with her second husband André Previn) Soon-Yi, then aged 21 to 56 from Woody. Over the years, each side has come up with their side of events, only for the other to challenge its veracity; the family split into factions (Mia and most of her surviving children – with the exception of Moses Farrow – on one side, Woody, Soon-Yi and Moses on the other) as did their supporters and the great public. Factions on both sides of the speech asserted that the other had a penchant for selecting facts or presenting a misconception of what those facts entail; each swears to be in exclusive possession of the complete truth.
Ziering and Dick recently made headlines for On disk, which shed light on Drew Dixon’s sexual harassment allegations against highly influential Def Jam recording mogul Russell Simmons. Their previous documentaries focused on sexual assault in the military (The invisible war) and the problem of rape on campus (The hunting ground).
Episode 1 of Allen V Farrow clocks at just under an hour and includes on-camera interviews with Dylan Farrow, now 35; his brothers Ronan Farrow (the journalist whose Harvey Weinstein exposes ran in the New Yorker; formerly known as Satchel) and Fletcher Previn; and Mia Farrow. Family friends like Casey Pascal and Priscilla Gilman (longtime girlfriend of Matthew Previn, the eldest of Farrow’s brood) also provide their on-screen statements, while Dylan’s sister Daisy Previn, recorded an audio interview.
The episode begins with Dylan speaking about how Woody Allen “went wild for 20 years” as she was growing up and this is her chance to set the record straight. Dylan has been speaking out since 2014, when she asked – via an open letter, and a later column in the LA Times which describes the abuse she says she suffered as a child at the hands of Woody Allen – why Hollywood stars continued to work with him. An NBC interview followed. However, this is the first time that she has dwelled on this period in her life and her relationship with Allen for so long.
We see Dylan browsing a thick photo album, flipping through pages and pages of images of her as a child: with Mia on a film set, with her siblings. Some spaces in the album are empty; they have faded glue marks – remnants of photos that have been removed. Others were strategically cut: Dylan as a baby being held by someone who was clearly wearing dark, wide-rimmed glasses.
Home videos show Dylan swimming in a pool with the man she called daddy – Woody Allen. Other images and archive photos show her gathered in his arms. His brother Fletcher recounts how Dylan once left his teddy bear in a hotel while the family was on vacation in Europe, and Woody had the beloved toy brought back to first class. The image that emerges is that of an overly loving father (if he is initially reluctant to become a parent) except that, as Dylan says, there was a lot of other things going on that weren’t visible.
Dylan, Mia, Pascal, Gilman, and Tisa Farrow (Mia’s sister) all reiterate an account of Allen’s behavior that they’ve become attached to for over two and a half decades now. Together, their statements allege that Allen had an almost obsessive fixation with Dylan (whom he legally co-adopted – along with Mia’s other child, Moses – in December 1991, just a month before his affair with Soon-Yi. be discovered) and that he engaged in inappropriate behavior with her, including making her suck his thumb, cuddle him while they were both wearing only their underwear and having his face pressed to his knees. Dylan’s specific allegation regarding the abuse she says took place at Mia’s farm in Connecticut in August 1992 has yet to be made. However, she describes feeling stifled by Allen’s constant and bewildering attention, his insistence that she only spend all of her time with him when he was at Mia’s.
The episode caught on until Mia discovered, in January 1992, nude photographs of Soon-Yi in Allen’s apartment. (Woody and Mia kept separate apartments across from each other in Central Park throughout their relationship.) Their unconventional lifestyles and the fact that Mia’s children were a mix of her biological offspring. and of those she adopted with Andre Previn, alone and with Allen later co-adopting two of them, meant there was a lot of obscurity on what Woody’s earlier equation was with Soon. -Yi – if she ever saw him as a parental / authority figure, when their affair started and with what intention, and what the state of his relationship with Mia was when he started seeing Soon-Yi.
Depending on which family member is speaking, you will likely have a different account of what happened when Mia found out about the case; what is certain is that the transgression of Allen – of which he is famous and rather gleefully brushed aside, “The heart wants what it wants … [Mia’s reaction would have been] more or less the same if it was my secretary or an actress ”- devastated Mia and some of Soon-Yi’s siblings, and sparked a crisis of which they still bear the marks.
Episode 1 of Allen V Farrow burns a surprisingly wide story arc into its limited time: it spans the gamut of Mia and Woody’s romance, the shared aspects of their lives (Fletcher Previn notes that even though Woody didn’t live with them, he was at their apartment all the mornings before the kids wake up and show up until they go to bed; and although Andre was Fletcher’s dad, he wasn’t around on a daily basis, so Woody was a father figure to some children – not just Moses, Dylan and Ronan; Daisy Previn mentions that Woody had created a space for the children at the back of his apartment, where they could lie down while visiting him); Woody’s conflicting feelings about children’s co-parenting; the “method and madness” of Mia’s diverse family; Dylan’s growing withdrawal as a child. Also featured are the many red flags that snowballed in the traumatic and destructive events that unfolded in the public eye.
In the absence of Woody Allen’s participation in the docu-series, Ziering and Dick rely on excerpts from his audiobook, About nothing (2020). In a clip, Woody describes why he fell in love with Mia – besides being beautiful and bright, he apparently admired that she was “properly libidinous” and always “mindful of her. [his] Needs. ”A creative decision to focus on Allen’s status in Hollywood by asking film writers and critics to echo his genius seems a bit offbeat though; viewers needn’t be told that “He’s a gifted writer, there’s no doubt about it. It might have been more perceptive to delve into the tremendous power and influence Allen wielded in Hollywood at the time.”
This episode of Allen V Farrow, although Dylan speaks at length, doesn’t cover much new ground in terms of the allegations against Woody, or the evidence for / against them. Most of what was featured in this episode is from reporter Maureen Orth’s coverage. Vanity Fair (in 1992 then again in 2013). And there’s a sort of dissonance created by the use of dramatic music to accompany Dylan’s commentary, and the spectacular visuals of Mia’s farm in Connecticut – it just doesn’t fit the topic. What Ziering and Dick achieve is their portrayal of the painful disintegration of a family and the heart-wrenching conflict an abuse survivor might experience, not only feeling anger and grief towards their abuser – but also love.
A reading list to accompany your viewing of Allen V Farrow:
“ Mia’s Story ” – Report by Maureen Orth in 1992 for Vanity Fair
“Mum Mia! – 2013 follow-up of Maureen Orth for Vanity Fair
“ How Maverick State Attorney Frank Maco Got Into The Woody-Mia Mess ” – Journalist Andy Thibault’s Profile, Detailing Maco’s Role In The Allen Charges Investigation , appeared in the April 1997 issue Connecticut Magazine.
“ Introducing Soon-Yi Previn ” – September 2018 Profile of Daphne Merkin, in Vulture / New York Magazine
“ Soon-Yi Profile Author Accused of Bias, Has a Long History with Woody Allen ” The Hollywood Reporter, September 2018, bearing Dylan and Ronan Farrow’s response to Merkin’s article.
‘An open letter from Dylan Farrow’ – The New York Times, February 2014
“Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen? – Editorial by Dylan Farrow in the LA Times, December 2017
“ The heart wants what it wants ” – Woody Allen interview with TIME magazine, August 1992
‘Soon-Yi Speaks: Let’s Not Get Hysterical’ – Statement posted in Newsweek, August 1992
‘Soon-Yi: Woody Wasn’t My Father’ – Interview posted in TIME, August 1992
“ A Son Speaks Out ” – Moses Farrow’s Blog, May 2018
Allen V Farrow is currently streaming on Disney + Hotstar in India. A new episode airs every Monday at 8:30 am.
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Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.firstpost.com