What Falls Away – Mia Farrow

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“I discovered that whatever your losses, you can still for the most part choose your attitude. If you have your health, a little courage, and imagination, then you have the internal resources to build a new life, and maybe a better one.”

“In New York City, Dali had accumulated an eclectic assortment of companions, including a beautiful hermaphrodite, a ballet dancer, a scientists, a woman who resembled George Washington, a dapper little man who managed some aspect of the Dali’s affairs – el Capitan as he was called – who had an accent, wore a uniform from no known place, and was usually accompanied by an ocelot.”

“I have respect for life in any form,” Frank said at that time. “I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, and everything I can see. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. I don’t believe in a personal god to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.”

“… how cavalier we are with time, as if it were not irreplaceable.”

“The last time we spoke, I told Woody I thought that something in him must have ruptured. I don’t know why I bothered saying again how much he’d taken from all the kids, and maybe from Soon-Yi even more than from Dylan. When I begged him for the children’ s sake to stop the publicity circus, he told me “he hadn’t even begun; that I was already the laughing stock of the country” and that “by the time I’m finished with you, there will be nothing left.” When I howled at him that in court he wouldn’t be able to say things that weren’t true, he replied, “It doesn’t matter what’s true; all that matters is what’s believed.”

This book was an interesting choice for me, as I never really was a big fan of Mia Farrow, and to be honest knew very little about her life. But that, in addition to her son Ronan Farrow’s recent tweet after the Golden Globes this year in which he stated “Missed the Woody Allen tribute — did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”, had me really curious about what exactly the real story was.

I have always been a huge fan of Woody Allen’s movies, even dressing up as Annie Hall for one of my character classes when I was still living in LA. However I, like most people, do not take allegations of child abuse lightly, and felt a weird juxtaposition of emotions concerning the man, and his art. I began this book not knowing if it would give me more of an opinion on the situation.

What Falls Away is an interesting and very personal look into the lives of many of Hollywood’s “greats” during a golden era. Born to famous parents herself, Mia was brought up playing with Bette Davis’ daughter, spent a great deal of time with Salvador Dali as a father figure, went to ashram’s with The Beatles, married Frank Sinatra, a man very much her senior while still a teen, and was even toasted by Dean Martin with, “Hey, I’ve got a bottle of scotch that’s older than you.” Her twelve year relationship with Woody Allen ended after thirteen movies together, and what would remain a lifetime of controversy.

Many of the anecdotes Ms. Farrow discusses are interesting, even inspiring. I especially enjoyed the story of Dali showing up on her 19th birthday with a beautifully painted glass container that held a rat consuming a lizard, stating that it was “violence in a bottle.” I found myself eager to know more, even if I found her writing, at times, to be simply too eager at sounding poetic, resulting in a convoluted attempt at masking the prosaic. That being said, this happened infrequently, and didn’t alter my experience reading the book. Additionally, while I greatly admire Ms. Farrow’s humanitarian efforts, and the fact she has raised 14 children, most of whom were adopted and special needs, I found her diction concerning these adoptions a bit perplexing; are you searching for a new member of your family or playing ‘eenie meenie miny moe’ from a catalogue of the third world? If any of you read it, you’ll see what I mean.

Even doing my best to remain objective and take everything I read with a grain of salt – after all, there are always multiple sides to every story and Mr. Allen was never convicted of molesting his seven year old daughter, I must say that What Falls Away made me take a step back and view both him, and his art in a very different light. Even if he didn’t molest his daughter, he did most definitely carry on a sexual relationship with his nineteen year old step daughter while he was still in a relationship with her mother. Historic movie genius, or sick and twisted child abuser: it’s a weird dichotomy to say the least.

Check it out folks – it’s an interesting read.

Xo

OMPP

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