L'Age D'or...The Golden Age
"You're in love with a fantasy."
You know those types of movies, the ones that seize you in the very first few seconds into them...you know what I'm talking about, the ones that you already know you will love even before having watched them; the ones that you can imagine being in every scene as it plays out, the ones that get you developing a relationship with the protagonist because of the level of relatability ignited? That's precisely what Midnight In Paris has been to me.
I have watched this piece of cinema innumerable times much like a Harry Potter fan reading cover to cover, and yet, when I began scribbling my thoughts about it, I couldn't help but be at an outright loss for words.
How could my senseless little ramblings even begin to attempt painting this pièce de résistance i.e. masterpiece; from the way that Paris is suddenly more picturesque than it ever was, the charming culture it encompassed, the people and their striking nuances, the quaint little cafes, the decadance of the 1920's, the art, its history and antiquity...don't even get me started on the beyond quixotic soundtrack? How would any reverie of my wee little mind do it any justice?
While watching it, I have often found myself being cast under a spell; I intrinsically felt myself, walking in those intimate lanes of Paris, while it rained, breathing in the petrichor perfume it came with, getting utterly drenched and embracing it. Woody Allen had designed a rendezvous so impeccably; transporting me into Gil Pender's world; where I am him and he is me.
Why am I Gil Pender, and he me? We are both in love with a fantasy.
We both love the idea of The Golden Age, much like a lot of us do. What is it about the ever-romantic notion of time travel, where we are compelled to be desirous of the ones that lived before us, in their time? What is it about the past that makes it so extraordinarily enchanting?
Are we the fantasists, or the philosophers...or are we plainly just The Romantics?
I was very young, perhaps still in school, thoroughly convinced with the idea of being an old soul, victim to being born too late, in a period that is dull and broken. I am going to state something that I am certain, will bear heavy scrutiny...but when has that ever stopped me before? So here goes...the 90's were boring, just like the decades that have followed it have been.
There, I said it!
The reason being, is that we just don't have, what the folks back then did. How can a generation dedicated to contactless engagement, virtually consumed, building bots, and developing AI come anywhere in the same vicinity as the poets, artists, literaries, philosophers, and the ones that really lived, when they did?
Our lives lack lustre; we live too fast, and feel too little.
We move from being angry about one thing after another, every new day, changing our causes like we do our clothes. We are the ones that don't have time, or the attention span, longer than an Instagram story. We are living in a time that is, for the lack of a better word, too bourgeois!
As Gil Pender stated, "Well that's just the awful era we live in but can you just imagine what this was like before?"
Revenons à votre période idéale, votre âge d'or...french for, let us go back to your ideal period, your golden age.
To me, it would hands down be the 1920's, ofcourse if I was located in New Orleans to encounter the original Dixieland Jazz, or possibly discuss, all of Gatsby's lavish parties with Fitzgerald, and maybe even attempt to be a flapper girl, discovering it from the original Flapper Girl herself; i.e Zelda Fitzgerald, ideally in Paris. Ofcourse, The Twenties are enticing for a lot more reasons but surfacing it, would have to be the art, entertainment, music, and fashion of that period.
Now in hindsight, I have often heard diverse conversations amongst adult figures glorifying a past before their time, just like I've often caught millenials worshipping The Nineties. I can't speak for the time before, but being a nineties kid, I can verify that there was nothing enchanting or even closely mystical about it - except for the inception of the internet (which also didn't really happen then, but actually in The Sixties, and also can lead to a whole other debate, altogether.)
Coming back to where I deviated from, this reflection got me thinking, why are we never happy at where we are?
The futher I advanced into the movie, the further it revealed, how personalities, no matter who they were, in every passage of time, no matter how golden it was, were unhappy with their present.
We see Picasso questioning himself, looking for validation; Hemmingway being by himself, more often than not, we see Zelda Fitzgerald being bored out of her mind at some of the roaring parties, and while the characters may have been exaggerated for cinematic incentives, I couldn't help but wonder, what if this was true?
What if they idolized a different period whilst living one of the most iconic epoch in time? Does it take the transformation of an entire generation, sometimes even two, to recognize what they had, when they did in their present? Does it take periods of eras to pass to realise that our past is our present?
“Yeah, that's what the present is. It's a little unsatisfying because life's a little unsatisfying.” - says Gil
But it is, isn't it? This is unarguably the truest declaration made in the film. We are so enticed by the enigma of history, or the romantic notions that we build around it, that we remorselessly disregard the glorious present. We often read up, or Netflix about how historical figures were great, or their flaws, and try to observe/learn from their mistakes of whatever we (the current generation) interpret their story to have been.
"We don't have the big things in common, but we have the little things." - and the relaible truth is that we always have had them. We just disregard them as boring, mundane and mediocre because it our right now.
I come with a thought...What if every night was a Midnight in Paris, i.e. what if we relive each day, disjointly, and analysed it one day at a time? What if we dettached from the fantasy to be living in a distinct period, and made our time, a more golden one?
Unless...do I dare?
Unless, we are already living a future generation's Golden Age, currently? Have we made it Golden enough to be walking down their memorabilia?
That is all I leave you with; a question, a reflection, an idea and a wonderment. That, and another memorable dialogue.
"The artist's job is to not succumb to despair but to find an antidote for life's emptiness." - Midnight in Paris
Stories By Giggles