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Film | Nostalgia in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner

A screenwriter named Gil comes on a tense trip to Paris with his fiancé Inez and her wealthy parents. Despite a successful Hollywood career, Gil always harbours a dream of becoming a serious novelist. He is working on a novel about “a guy who owns a nostalgia shop”.

One day, while strolling along the streets of Paris at midnight, Gil sees a mysterious antique car, and its passengers urge him to get in. This car takes him back to the Paris of the 1920s—the Golden Time that he loves.

Since then, Gil has been travelling back in time every night to join a party, where he encounters Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, and the other legends of Paris in the 1920s. He also falls in love with Adriana, who has been Picasso’s mistress.

The first notable element of the film is its fantastic visuals, tapping into the way in which Woody Allen perceives and romanticises the city. A long series of postcard shots in the first three minutes is a showcase of the city’s famous attractions, which immediately reminds of the shimmer lover-city of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

Next is numerous famous figures and quotes, which have added artistic glamour to the film. Also, much of the humour of Midnight in Paris comes through its knowing portrayals of these artistic giants. Adrien Brody plays up the eccentric surrealist Salvador Dali with deft flair. And Hemingway, with his gruff, always speak in formal sentences of great masculine portent, is particularly amusing.

Finally, Allen copes with the question of nostalgia, revealing that the past is nothing more than a fantasy, which allows people to deny the bad experiences at present. On the other hand, people can only overcome this sentiment when they recognise that the present isn’t always bad. The nostalgia-filled journey helps Gil identify what is missing in reality and give him the courage to dedicate all his time to writing novels in Paris.

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s 41st film. He combines spectacular visuals, the abundance of artistic and literary elements, with his characteristic wit and philosophical brilliance to handle the nostalgic sentimentality.



Berger, J. (2011). Decoding Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’. Retrieved from

Ebert, R. (2011). Woody serves a movable feast. Retrieved from

Scott, A.O. (2011). The Old Ennui and the Lost Generation. Retrieved from

Simek, P. (2011). Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen Loses Himself in a Romantic Vision of the City of Light – D Magazine. Retrieved from


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