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Published on Feb 29, 2012
Woody Allen uses eye, seeing and vision symbolism throughout Crimes & Misdemeanors. Judah (Martin Landau) is a wealthy ophthalmologist. Rabbi Ben (Sam Waterson), one of Judah's real patients, is going blind. This clip is an exploration of a dichotomy between a "kingdom of Heaven" with absolutes and objectivity and the "real world" with relativity and subjectivity. Judah is on the horns of a dilemma. Judah's mistress, Dolores, has created a crisis by threatening to publicly expose his affair with her and his financial improprieties. In the middle of the night in a violent thunderstorm, symbolic of the crisis and dilemma, Judah has an imagined conversation with one of his real patients, Rabbi Ben. The imagined conversation is about Judah's mobster brother Jack's (Jerry Orbach) proposed murder of Judah's mistress of several years, Dolores, through the services of the mobster brother. Judah sees only two world views, a "kingdom of Heaven" view represented by Rabbi Ben and the "real world" view represented by mobster brother Jack. Judah's dilemma is which world view to embrace to resolve his crisis. Judah complains: "I managed to keep free of the real world, but suddenly it's found me." When faced with Rabbi Ben's "kingodom of Heaven" view that God sees all, Judah proclaims: "God is a luxury I can't afford." They all exhibit deficits when it comes to "seeing" what is around them and other perspectives. Judah think's Rabbi Ben's perspective is "blind" to the real world. Judah imagines Rabbi Ben arguing back that, although Judah is blind to God, God is not blind and sees Judah for what he is, a murderer. In the end, Judah embraces mobster brother Jack's "real world" view and calls Jack to give the go-ahead for the already planned murder of Dolores.