Literature in Film: A Midnight in Paris (2011)

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I walked everywhere in my hometown when I was a young boy and often walked miles to a friend’s house because I really did not mind taking long strolls (and I still do not mind wandering even though the miles and friends have changed). There is something about walking that really provides a sense of enjoyment, whether that be the physical and emotional release it allots through exercise or because it allows me time to think about my life while I am taking in the fresh air and outdoors (perambulations is a word for it).

Walking plays a pivotal role in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) in that a drunken stagger late one night after wine tasting leaves Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) at the doorstep of The Lost Generation. Gil, who is a romantic, knows all the artists and writers present at the scene, from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau. It is here that he begins to find himself as a writer through interactions with some of the greatest minds of the early 1900s. Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) helps Gil with his manuscript while the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald show him what it means to be a writer (and unrepentant alcoholic).  

Midnight in Paris loves its setting and characters, and this can be seen in the nurturing way it provides insight into Paris and an age gone by, from the late-night bars to the amusement parks, to the curiosity shops littering the street where Gil finds friendship and a Cole Porter record. There is not much to dislike about this movie as each performance offers a foggy-glassed look into the real artists’ lives (and I say foggy because there is no way Hemingway talked like that), and it gives the audience a sense of why these esoteric and often eccentric artists are still revered. If you like writing, I definitely recommend you give this a watch.