Spoiler Alert! (If you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to be surprised when you do go see it, don’t read.)
For the first time in a long time, I went to the movies and saw Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. I had no idea what the movie was about – I had the day to myself, so I went for it. I just figured it was some kind of a romantic comedy. I guess you could call it romantic comedy. But this is also a very indulgent film, it seems. The character of Gil experiences a kind of time travel and goes to the 1920s Paris. There he meets all the famous writers and artists like Picasso, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald.
This is a film made by and for artists. And I guess that’s what I mean by “indulgent.” And I don’t mean it in a bad way – I really enjoyed it. Because I recognized most of the names and characters, it made me feel… cultured and knowledgeable. And I wonder if that was the point. For example, if you didn’t recognize Hemingway or Gertrude Stein’s characters, then I think the movie would seem slow and dull.
The main “message” of the movie is that those who are unhappy with the current era (in which they live) are mistakenly reminiscing over a bygone era. Each era says the prior era was the golden age. The character of Adriana thinks that the 1890s was the golden age, and the men of the 1890s think the Renaissance was indeed the golden age.
The time travel aspect of the story reminds me of Woody Allen’s short story, “The Kugelmass Episode,” a story about an English professor who travels to have an affair with Emma Bovary. The ending is brilliant: “He had been projected into an old textbook, Remedial Spanish, and was running for his life over a barren, rocky terrain as the word tener (“to have”) – a large and hairy irregular verb- raced after him on its spindly legs.”
If you love literature, art, and Woody Allen… go see it. Indulge yourself.