By Christopher Green
The opening montage of Mr. Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris, takes us through a day in the life of Paris, the City of Lights. From the early morning as the city comes alive right on through the day and deep into the night where we see why Paris is known as the city of lights.
Mr. Allen allows, as a brief, perfect aside, the audience to experience a rainy interlude, so we can see how Paris glimmers even underneath the rain.
It wasn’t the usual Paris we have grown to expect from other less talented directors. And yes, all the usual sites were included. What I was struck with was the way he showed life bursting in every part of the city. Too many others show famous buildings and art and forget that Paris is full of life everywhere you look.
You almost get the idea that Mr. Allen has a wandering eye as he caresses Paris with a most gentle touch. The explosion of flowers, the sun soaked gardens, the roof top apartments and even the shy peek at the Eiffel Tower through an alleyway show us all that Mr. Allen may be falling in love with another city.
Of course, we all know that Mr. Allen has a “thing” for New York, his hometown. But lately, first with Barcelona and now with Paris, one might get the idea that Mr. Allen is losing faith in New York. Perhaps it is because of the serious blow leveled against his hometown back in 2001. Perhaps he is just expanding
Whatever the reason he has become enamored with Paris, I want to thank him for letting me see Paris in such a way that I feel as if I were there.
You see I have always wanted to go to Paris. Not only just the Paris of now, the Paris that is chocked full of life and sass and style and museums and art and yes the French themselves even though they provoke certain people of a certain political persuasion here in the good old US of A just by refusing to let American culture invade their country, but the Paris that Mr. Allen sees when he strolls down the Champs-Elysées and the alley ways and the open markets.
As things stand now, I may never get a chance to see the city I have longed for from a far ever since I first discovered the music of Debussy and the art of Monet.
I wanted to see the place were so much art was created, so much style was invented, so much history took place. I wanted to see what Hemingway and the other members of the lost generation saw, who, incidentally, appear in Midnight in Paris. I wanted to feel the passion of Paris that came through in the classic Bogart movie Casablanca….
But because of my illness, I may never get the chance to see Paris.
Flying is not a good option for me anymore because of the recirculation of air and of course the bugs that hang out in that air. Every time I have flown since I came down with my affliction, I have gotten sick, too sick to enjoy any vacation I tried.
The last time I climbed into an airplane was back in the 90’s when I flew out to Denver to see my Brother-in-Law for Christmas. Once we arrived, I fell sick, too sick really to enjoy myself and probably ruined the trip for Laurie’s mother.
This was, of course, right around the time when the esteemed pulmonary doctor I had at the time told me I had Asthma. I guess Asthma is a catchall phrase, sort of like COPD. Perhaps if he would have told me the full story, I might have been able to deal with my disease better. But that story has been told before earlier in this blog.
In any case, flying is no longer a viable option for me. I don’t want to catch some bug and end up being in a strange town far away from the Cleveland Clinic and the Lung Transplant crew I have come to trust with my life.
We plan to look into taking a boat across, but I suppose that is going to be proved out of the question due to the cost in time and money.
So, like so many other things in my life, like actually working for more than a couple of hours a day and making a living wage, I have had to scale back my expectations of life. Life is getting a little less magical as all the dreams I had in youth are being taken away from me. But it’s not just the dreams; it is things that go on day to day.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to go to Cedar Point and I would have loved to go. But since most of the rides that pique my interest are guaranteed to take my breath away, well, you do not have to be a genius to figure that one out. I did not want to go some place that is full of fun and just sit around watching everyone scream in joyful terror. I am just not ready for that yet.
I know a lot of people may say get over it, expectations are meant to be dashed. Haven’t you read any French novels or seen any French movies, since you mentioned France?
Well, I have read the Existentialists like Camus and Sartre and watched more than a few French Movies in my time and they surely have added to my cobbled together view of what my life is all about.
But if you really want to see why I wanted to go to Paris, watch this movie Paris, Je T’Aime, or, as those who are of a certain political persuasion would insist, Paris, I love you. Most of it is about the day-to-day life of all the different kinds of people, some natives and some not, who are attracted to or call Paris home. And so this movie is much more focused on the people and less about Paris itself.
However, there is one vignette that touched me, that also made me tear-up. You see I have become much more sentimental as I get older. This particular vignette, about fulfilling one’s dream, was personal for me. The Marvelous actor, Margo Martindale, plays a postal worker who, like me, longed to see Paris. She even took the extreme measure, for an American, of learning the language. She is from Denver and her accent and her French and her intonation gives her a slightly tragic but earnest quality.
Carol, her name in the movie, was determined to see the city even if she had to go all by herself. She cuts a lonely path through the city of lights, but just her being there and getting the chance to experience Paris gave me a look at Paris that was more uplifting than all the other vignettes combined.
And it remained so until last night.
Woody Allen’s opening broke me up not because I was sad for what I probably will never experience in real time. No, it was because he gave me the chance to see Paris the way Carol did and the way it should be, by looking at life as it unfolds through all the neighborhoods.
So Woody, thank you again for giving me something I may never get a chance to see up close and personal. After all, I will always have Midnight in Paris.