I watched Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris for the second time this weekend. I’ve been a fan of Allen’s movies for as long as I can remember–I think because he has a way of showing the absurd (the “what people are really thinking”) in just about anything. My favorite line comes from his movie Hannah and Her Sisters. As Woody’s character, Mickey, grapples with the meaning of life and death, he explores some of the great thinkers. Noting that Nietzsche believed that we are destined to live the same life over and over again until we get it right, Mickey comments “Great. I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again.” Failure and boredom.
Midnight in Paris is an exploration in time travel. The main character, an American writer named Gil, goes to Paris with his fiance and happens upon a way–at midnight each night–to escape to Paris in the roaring 20’s. He meets Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Dali, Eliot, Picasso and a host of other authors, artists and philosophers. Traveling to the past enables Gil to see the present more clearly, to determine what he wants out of life and to recognize the people who have his best interests at heart.
Many years ago while living in Germany, I traveled to Paris for the weekend. It was one of the least fulfilling trips I’ve ever taken. While the paintings at the Louvre and the grounds at Versailles were magnificant, the city somehow seemed stuffy to me. I couldn’t wait to board the plane back to Frankfurt.
Watching Allen’s film, though, made me yearn a bit to try the city again. Maybe years out, with more savvy and experience under my belt, I could enjoy what Paris has to offer.