Thursday, December 29, 2011

I See ... A Rhinoceros ...!

If you ever had any doubt about Woody Allen's genius, please watch Midnight in Paris, and your doubts will be dispelled. It's a wonderful movie, but more than that, Woody Allen's casting of the movie is beyond brilliant. Who else but Adrian Brody could have played Salvador Dali?

Man Ray: "A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!"
Luis Buñuel: "I see a film!"
Gil: "I see insurmountable problem!"
Salvador Dalí: "I see a rhinoceros!"

In Midnight in Paris, our protagonist, Gil, is a struggling writer who wants to live in Paris of the 1920s ~~ the era of bathtub gin, writers, musicians, artists, poets, and all that jazz. Woody Allen's movie is populated by all of those wonderful folks ~~ Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and so many more. Gil gets to know them on a personal level, and he learns the meaning and the struggle behind their work and their creativity, and we get to know them too. It's wonderful to see Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, sitting in her salon, and just above her on the wall is the famous portrait of her painted by Pablo Picasso, as she sits chatting with ~~ Pablo Picasso. I felt part of the Bohemian café society of the 1920s as they discussed poetry, art, literature...

I think we have all wondered what it would be like to live in a different era. For me, the Edwardian era is where I have always wanted to visit. I have a photo of my grandmother taken as a girl during the Edwardian era, and I have often thought I would love to travel back in time and visit with her. She lived in South Africa, and I would imagine her life to be very much like Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke's, also known as Isak Dinesen, the woman who wrote Out of Africa. My grandmother's parents owned a vineyard in the Paarl Valley, and she and her sisters lived a very interesting and rather privileged life.  I still own some of the china and linens my family used when they lived in South Africa, and they're beautiful.

I find everything about the Edwardian era fascinating ~~ the clothes, the architecture, the culture; it was an innovative period of time politically and scientifically. Some of the most wonderful writers came out of the Edwardian era ~~ J. M. Barrie, G.K. Chesterton, Kenneth Grahame, E. M. Forster, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Beatrix Potter, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse, Kenneth Grahame, W. Somerset Maugham. During the Edwardian era, automobiles were invented, and the South Pole was reached for the first time by Roald Amundsen and then Robert F. Scott. My guilty pleasure is escaping every Sunday night to Downton Abbey, which is beginning its Season Two in January.  It transports me to the Edwardian era, in all its Edwardian glory.  I love it.  In Midnight in Paris, the young woman with whom Gil became enamored, longed to return to La Belle Époque, which overlapped between the Victorian era and the Edwardian era.  That was the period of my favourite artist, Odilon Redon.  Somehow, everything seemed more beautiful in those days.  If you could escape to another era, or another age, which one would you choose? Does it include a rhinoceros?

11 comments:

Sextant said...

The only age I have ever had a fascination for was the depression and World War II. Frightening but very interesting time.

Jo said...

Sextant, that would have been a very interesting time. My father used to talk about it ~~ "the dirty 30s". And of course, the war changed everything from that point onwards.

The Panorama said...

Woody Allen is a genius and I love all his films. Haven't seen this one so m looking forward to it:)

Jo said...

Hi, Saroj! You would love Midnight in Paris. Be sure to see it, if you get the chance.

DJan said...

I loved the movie! I too felt it was one of his best, and it's still capable of bringing a smile to my face when I think of it. It was a wonderful premise...

Leslie: said...

Well, I was born just one generation too late as I am so interested the era of World War 2. I'm just starting Caroline Moorehead's "A Train in Winter" about French women who were in the resistance, but were caught and sent to Auschwitz. Some survived and told their story about the whole experience. I'm just into the political background so far, but it's fascinating.

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lgsquirrel said...

You make a good case for the Edwardian era but my interest is in a much more simpler time. I would like to have been an early explorer and beaver hunter in 17th century North America - canoeing the great rivers and lakes, seeing the forests in their natural state and discovering and befriending the local tribes.

Paula Slade said...

If I could go back in time, I would visit it all for the last three thousand years. Like a "time lord" I have a curiosity for each era.

Wolynski said...

I quite like it right now with the Internet and digital photography.

Speaking of Downton Abbey - if you go to my Wolynski blog and search for "Jim Carter", you'll find quite a few photos of the actor who plays the head butler as a young man - we used to be in a comedy group. He was skinny and had a big mustache.

Jennifer D said...

I have been watching Downton Abbey(Netflix) and loving every minute.The Dialouge, the characters, the Costumes...Mmm Tomorrow the first episode of season 2 is coming on and I am so looking forward to it, my hubby not so much. He falls asleep as soon as it starts.

Out of Africa and all things
1920's are personal obsessions of mine and I can't believe there is a movie with Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali and I haven't heard about it. Must see!