Woody Allen on Gaza crisis: "...I feel that the Arabs were not very nice in the beginning"

Also calls people who believe in psychics "simple-minded"

Woody Allen

Interview with the Daily Beast

Woody Allen is, without question, one of the most prolific filmmakers in history. The comedy legend has directed an astounding 44 films—averaging about one a year—including classics like Annie Hall, Manhattan, Love and Death, the list goes on. He’s won four Academy Awards and received a total of 24 Oscar nominations, including 16 as a screenwriter, the most of anyone ever (and all in the Best Original Screenplay category), as well as seven as a director, tying him for third all-time.

His 44th film is Magic in the Moonlight. Set in the French Riviera, it tells the tale of Stanley (Colin Firth), a renowned illusionist who goes by the stage name Wei Ling Soo and is hired by a wealthy family’s consigliere to expose Sophie (Emma Stone), a fetching young American woman who claims to be a medium that can not only see the future, but also speak to the dead. It’s a pleasant enough, aesthetically pleasing confection replete with some splendid vistas.

During the last awards cycle, Allen was the subject of an onslaught of media attention not for his filmmaking accolades, but his controversial off-screen life—namely, that Dylan Farrow, his stepdaughter with ex-wife Mia Farrow, penned an op-ed in The New York Times accusing him of sexually assaulting her as a child—allegations that were first brought to light over 20 years prior. Allen responded with his own op-ed in the Times, and the media, as is their wont, proceeded to pick sides.

Moonlight is Allen’s first film since that very public back-and-forth.

Magic in the Moonlight really seems to explore the battle between pragmatism and “magic.” Do you believe in mediums and psychics? I walk around New York City, where I live, and see all these elaborate storefronts for psychics and I always feel they’re running a cockfighting ring or something underneath to foot the rent.

You can tell from this movie and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger that I think they’re the acme of frauds appealing only to the most gullible, simple-minded people. Look, like Colin Firth in my movie, I only wish they were real. It would be great if someone could predict the future, there was more to life than meets the eye, and somebody could do a séance and communicate with someone from another world, it would all add enormous spice and hope to life. Unfortunately, I feel it’s wishful thinking.

What do you feel sets Emma Stone apart as an actress? She does have a certain zest, and you’ve chosen to work with her again on your upcoming movie that you’re filming now.

Apart from the fact that she has that magical feeling that movie stars have, you look at her on the screen and she’s very, very pretty—and not just pretty in a way that’s routine, but a certain movie-star pretty, like interesting-pretty. She’s a very beautiful girl with a special look to her face that sets her apart from other girls who are as beautiful or even more beautiful from a technical point of view, but they’re not as much fun to look at. And she happens to be a wonderful actress. I had never heard of her until I was on my treadmill and I happened to see her in passing in some silly movie, and I thought, “Oh, it’s a silly movie, but that girl is really interesting. She’s great looking, has a great look to her, and can really act.” When I spoke to my casting director, Juliet Taylor, about her, she told me she was one of the very best actresses around, so I got to use her, and she did not disappoint.

Jews from New York are a very different brand from the Israelis. What’s your take on the situation in Gaza right now?

More terribleness. Ever since I can remember, when I was 21 years old, they were telling me, “Peace is around the corner between the Arabs and Israelis. The next generation. Right now, there’s a lot of bitterness, but with time, new generations will grow up and be more peaceful with each other.” This would go on and on and on, and in the end, nothing’s changed. This situation remains tragic and terrible, and the leaders in Israel and the leaders in the Arab world have not been able to come to an agreement. It’s a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself—but I say that without knowing that it will. I hope that it will, but it seems, at this point, that nobody on either side is ready, willing, and able to.

But I feel that the Arabs were not very nice in the beginning, and that was a big problem. The Jews had just come out of a terrible war where they were exterminated by the millions and persecuted all over Europe, and they were given this tiny, tiny piece of land in the desert. If the Arabs had just said, “Look, we know what you guys have been through, take this little piece of land and we’ll all be friends and help you,” and the Jews came in peace, but they didn’t. They were not nice about it, and it led to problems, and over the years, both sides have made mistakes. There’ve been public relations mistakes, actual mistakes, and it’s been a terrible, terrible cycle of mismanagement and bad faith.

Full interview @ the source