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Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is an enchanting film that takes us right to the heart of the 1920s and our class! The narrative is about a newly engaged couple, Gil and Inez, who join Inez’ parents on a trip to Paris. For Gil, Paris is literally a dream come true. He is writing a novel about a nostalgia shop. And his novel comes to life one night when he steps into a classic coach and travels back in time to the Roaring Twenties. On his midnight travels, he meets F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Josephine Baker, Djuna Barnes, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and others. Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) critiques his novel for him. Owen Wilson plays Gil, and Rachel McAdams plays Inez. Carla Bruni makes a short appearance as the Museum Guide. This whimsical film brings out the illusions in Gil’s engagement and suggests that the world of the imagination may have more significance than our everyday reality.
Questions to consider: How does Woody Allen depict 1920s Paris in Midnight in Paris? How does this depiction compare to other visions of the period we have seen in class (Hemingway, Barnes and Hughes, for example?)
What do you think of the way in which Woody Allen portrayed the figures from the 1920s in the film? Pay particular attention to the depictions of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein & and F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald. What is it about these writers that Gil finds inspirational in a way that is not true of his actual present life?Consider both the portrayals of the surrealists (Dali, Man Ray, Luis Bunuel) and the surrealist aspects of the narrative. In what way is Gil’s adventure a surrealist one?
In what way does Gil’s magical visit to Paris in the 20s change his life? What is it about Paris in the 20s that he found so inspiring? How did you feel about the way things ended for Gil? What makes this a good outcome?
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