Recently, I saw the 2011 Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. Although, it was recommended to me a long time ago, I could never lay my hands on it. It was aired on HBO a few days ago and I happened to see it. On an unrelated note, I think watching movies on the TV should be the 8th deadly sin; it’s my most favourite form of entertainment. Coming back to Midnight in Paris, the movie is about a Hollywood scriptwriter who visits Paris with his fiancée. The scriptwriter, Gil, is in the throes of writing a full-fledged book. Although his fiancée doesn’t show much confidence in him, he is still pursuing his dream. While his fiancée spends her days in Paris enjoying the fashionable life, Gil looks in the rues of Paris for much needed direction on his writing. One midnight, while walking back to the hotel by himself, Gil gets picked up by a car which takes him to a place where he meets Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Bewildered though he is, Gil’s mind refuses to believe he is hallucinating. After a thoroughly magical night, he returns a second night only to meet more writers and strikes an acquaintance with all of them. As it turns out his midnight excursions in Paris take him back into the world where literature thrived and presents him with perspective.
I can go into the rest of the story, however, I won’t because this is not a movie review. What I took away from the movie were a couple of things that seemed very pertinent and insightful even. The movie, very beautifully, shows how artists are never happy with the present and always hope that they were born in a different era without realising that they’re creating history themselves. Gil very succinctly summarizes this human nature and makes a general statement when he says, “That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.” Funnily enough, the characters from the past meet Gil and tell him that they’d rather be born in the period of the Renaissance. Somehow, everyone in that movie thought that the past was always more enchanting than the present.
Since this movie is about a writer trying to find his voice, there is a lot of talk about writing too. I have to admit, I am extremely impressed by Corey Stoll who played Ernest Hemingway. There is a bohemian quality to that character, one that I always hoped a writer of great stature would have. Hemingway came across to me as the realization of my imagination. There is some really amazing dialogue between Gil and Hemingway in the movie. Sample some.
Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.
Hemingway: You’ll never write well if you fear dying. Do you?
Gil: Yeah, I do. I’d say probably, might be my greatest fear actually.
Hemingway: It’s something all men before you have done, all men will do.
Gil: I know, I know.
Hemingway: Have you ever made love to a truly great woman?
Gil: Actually, my fiancée is pretty sexy.
Hemingway: And when you make love to her you feel true and beautiful passion. And you for at least that moment lose your fear of death.
Gil: No, that doesn’t happen.
Hemingway: I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face like some rhino hunters I know, or Belmonte, who’s truly brave. It is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds, until the return that it does to all men. And then you must make really good love again. Think about it.
There is the insight I was talking about. I really liked the movie and the fact that it was about a writer trying to find his voice resonated with me. I recommend this movie to everyone who thinks they write not because they’re paid to do it, but because they can’t see themselves not doing it.
I’m not sure how many of us feel that way, but there is a satisfying and mystic feeling in creating something. The infusion of happiness that fills the soul after doing something worth the while is incomparable. If neither of these is happening, one must try harder.
I promise to try harder next year.
Thank you F, S, U, R, S, K and everyone else who reads my blog and gives me their opinion.
I couldn’t have gotten through this year without a lot of people. If you’re reading this, chances are I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you, so thank you!
I believe that you are not your new year resolutions, but you are the ocean bed formed by careful sedimentation of shiny gravel over time. Everything is in you, nothing ever goes away. That’s how this blog is, all 4 years have just folded one on top of another like sheets of linen. And to me, it looks a pretty stack I see in my closet.
Happy 4th blogoversary to me!
Signing off with what Gertrude Stein said in Midnight in Paris.
The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.