“Golden Age”

Yesterday, Sam & I decided to watch a movie in the middle of the afternoon. This was  pretty out of the ordinary but we had rented Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris for Valentine’s Day and had unfortunately gone to bed early with head colds. I had heard a few positive things about the movie and we figured it would be a cute comedy for the “day of love.”

It is pretty rare for us to both like the same movie (this one is no exception*) but Sam does a great job of picking movies he thinks I will like and watching them with me! This movie far exceeded my expectations and not only gave me a renewed appreciation for writing (story telling & reading more classics) but also made me want to visit Paris for more than the food! *I should point out that Sam did NOT like the movie and even dozed off a few times, but that’s not really very surprising.

The basic story (and I won’t give anything away because the best part was watching the story unfold) is Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams), while on vacation in Paris, begin to come to grips with their extreme differences about life and happiness. Gil is an aspiring writer and has always been inspired by Paris in the 20’s – what he would describe as the “Golden Age.” He romanticizes the quiet streets and cafes and envisions his favorite American authors travelling to Paris for inspiration and time to write. Inez is a shallow, self-absorbed woman who could never imagine living life outside of the United States and really only enjoys the “finer” things Paris has to offer: wine tastings, museums, & shopping.

On a night when Inez has ditched him to go dancing with friends, Gil wanders the streets alone and finds himself lost. At midnight, a car drives up and the strangers invite him inside. Gil hesitantly agrees and finds himself not only transported to a party, but to the 1920’s! Each night Gil is able to travel through time to his “Golden Age” and meet his literary heroes (Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Eliot, etc) who give him advice for his own novel-in-progress. One of my favorite lines was from Hemingway, looking across at Gil and speaking in the most dramatic of tones: “No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”

First of all – I think I smiled through the whole movie. It was just quirky and quaint and sweet. Second – I had no idea that it had a literary theme to it and found myself mesmerized by the characters depicting “historical” figures and specifically falling in love with Hemingway (see my updated book list).

Gil’s adventures lead him to a place of discovery: every generation has it’s “Golden Age” because who wants to live in the present? “That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.” A writer’s job is to draw out the true and the hopeful in life, even in the midst of the painful or unsatisfying, and I would say that is what this movie did – splendidly!

I know I would love to visit Dicken’s London or have lunch with Jane Austen…or maybe take a stroll through Edna St. Vincent Millay’s New York in the 1920’s? What would be your “Golden Age” (as a reader OR writer)?

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