A fondness for magic pervades the work of Woody Allen, as previously seen with the disappearing mother of “Oedipus Wrecks” and the reappearing ghost of “Scoop.” With “Midnight in Paris,” more than ever, Allen continues to pursue magic as a potential solution to the disappointments of life.
“I feel that the only thing that can save us is magic,” Allen says. “It’s always been the hope that someday, either in one’s personal life or one’s life in general, that some bit of magic will occur, but so far nothing’s happened.”
In the time-warp fantasy that is “Midnight in Paris,” Owen Wilson’s Gil escapes his unfulfilling relationships and career by rubbing elbows with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein in 1920s Paris. In addition to Allen’s fascination with magic, the story reflects the filmmaker’s belief in the healing power of “diversion.”
According to Allen, “What helps you escape is you watch a baseball game or a basketball game. You watch a Fred Astaire movie,” the way Mia Farrow does at the end of “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” Even writing the next scene of a movie helps, Allen says, providing a diversion that “takes your mind off those problems which really exist that are completely unsolvable.”
In this respect, the wish fulfillment of Allen’s films is hardly limited to his characters. Allowing him to work with “lavish” costumes and “great locations and sets,” making films like “Midnight in Paris” in Paris affords the self-described pessimist a taste of magic.
“Each film that I do practically does fulfill that fantasy of living in a world that I can’t really live in,” Allen says. “I would like to be able to take a trip (to Paris’ past) for a day every now and then, as one takes a trip to Aspen or Hawaii — just to take a little trip and have lunch at Maxim’s in Paris and then come back to Manhattan today.”
It’s a matter of ‘life’ and mirth
And the nominees are:
Woody Allen | Michel Hazanavicius | Terrence Malick | Alexander Payne | Martin Scorsese