The Case of Woody Allen vs. Dostoevsky: Judeo-Cinematocgraphic Philosophy of Crime and Non-Punishment


  • Leonard (Leo) Storchevoy Srinakharinwirot University


Woody Allen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, American cinema, crime and punishment, morality, Judaism and Christianity


Woody Allen, a winner of dozens of international awards for directing, screen writing and acting, has repeatedly turned to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (Russia, 1821-1881) novel Crime and Punishment as a source of existential inspiration. In his movies Crime and Misdemeanors (1989) and Match Point(2005), the Jewish Allen challenges the Christian and notoriously anti-Semitic Dostoevsky to an exciting intellectual duel on the issues of conscience and Biblical morality. 

According to Dostoevsky, any crime triggers a punishment, and the most severe punishment is inflicted by the criminal’s conscience. The laws of morality are inherent in the human’s nature, and transgressing these laws destroys human’s consciousness, compromising human’s ability to exist. According to Woody Allen, immorality is inherent in some individuals just as morality is inherent in others, and to the latter a crime implies a non-punishment.

Woody Allen’s concept of non-punishment has three sources. First, it is rooted in his personal Jewish experience, as he believed that the Nazis essentially remained unpunished for the killing of 6 million Jews. Second, educated in a traditional Hebrew school, Allen must have been unawarely influenced by the Judaic concept of reward and punishment. While the conventional, albeit oversimplified, Christian approach to the issue is that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished, both Talmudic sages and Biblical prophets were mindful of the problem why “the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper.” The Talmudic wisdom admits human’s inability to provide an exhaustive solution to the problem. Third, as an intellectual Woody Allen is inherently defiant of any authority, challenging any well-established moral principle and enjoying the debate.




How to Cite

Storchevoy, L. (Leo). (2011). The Case of Woody Allen vs. Dostoevsky: Judeo-Cinematocgraphic Philosophy of Crime and Non-Punishment. Fine Arts Journal: Srinakharinwirot University, 14(1), 58–64. Retrieved from