Midnight in Paris

Watched a film I put off for a long time, Midnight in Paris last night. Before I played it I already knew I would not only enjoy it, but it would resonate deeply with me.

I was having a bad day, but Midnight in Paris totally cheered me up and transported me to another world.

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Plot: A writer travels back through time in Paris in the 1920s every night, and mingles with famous writers and painters to get inspiration.

Wow. For a start, ok, this film is a visual feast. The filming locations are usually outdoors, in beautiful locations, so romantic, so picturesque. The soundtrack, oh my god, it accompanies everything. The jazz…so relaxing, it’s really my type of music. That’s how it drew me in.

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That’s exactly how I see the world, through those lenses of fantasy, taking in the charming allure of the city. I think that’s why I have such strong attachment to my Europe trip. I romanticise places. A lot.

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The lines in the film are also exceptionally beautiful and inspiring for me as a designer, writer, artist, content creator.

THE CONCEPT OF CREATING

But Midnight in Paris is not just that. It’s about content creation, inspiration, ambition. The power of believing and giving a shot. Probably too late to be a writer, but I do believe people have what it takes inside of them to succeed.

“We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence.”

I think that’s the highest form of calling. I think this is what I’ve been searching for all along. I recently came across this Japanese concept ‘ikigai’ online, which means ‘the reason for being’. It means combining doing what you love, what you’re good at and what the world needs all at the same time. I think what the world needs is an antidote to the emptiness of existence. I do believe I have the antidote—God, of course—but not everyone believes in God and some people even pushes away the gospel. I’m afraid I don’t have it all figured out, I want to help people, but I don’t know how to…and I’m still trying to figure out how to present my antidote to the world in another way. Though I’m not going to pressure myself, because I believe all things come in its own timing. As an aspiring writer/artist, seeing how they talk about art in the film is…rather confronting. Real art is confronting I think. It might be harrowing, but I think in a sense it questions our being and through that, encourages people to find their own ‘ikigai’.

Anyways watching the artists at work just makes me very very inspired, to bring my abstract concepts to the world.

The question is what can I offer?

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The film inspires me because it tells me it’s never too late to start. Yes, I’m young, but I always believe our time on earth is very limited. Gil (the main character) took a real shot at being a writer, to me, he’s inspiring. This sounds cliche, but pursuing our dreams is inspiring, no matter how old you are. And if you’re in a field like accountancy, or medicine, or law, those professions usually have a fixed path, a corporate ladder—but in my field, the world of content creation, the creative industry, we hustle and hustle in obscurity. I have lost track of the times where I felt so unheard, my voice so insignificant and soft. This film then is so peculiar, because Gil is also a normal, insignificant person that gets to hang out with the greatest giants of the literary world—F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso.

THE CONCEPT OF LOVING

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“I believe that love is true and real and create a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks at death squarely in the face, it is because they love with sufficient passion, to push death out of their minds.” —Ernest Hemingway

I know this. I know this full well because I had a man give up on us because of his fears.

Because he was too afraid. Afraid of exactly what, I don’t know.

Afraid of commitment, afraid of poverty, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to carry the heavy crown on my head.

“I’m sure you’ll be a very successful designer.”
“So what? Why does it scare you if, just if, I’m more successful than you?”

But whatever the fears are, all fears stem from one fear—the fear of death.
We are sinful beings that deserve death in the first place. Perhaps the reason why we’re so fearful of the future and about the little things in life is that we know death is the unavoidable outcome, and we try so hard to make our lives matter.

I had asked him, “Do you like me enough?”
I’d like to think the hidden connotation to my question was, “Do you like me enough to call it real love?”

He couldn’t answer.

Maybe the answer is no. Perhaps it has been no all along, because if cowardice comes from not loving, then the answer is simply not loving.

I saw and I loved. I loved wholly, though flawed, but wholly. I know it is for three years. I loved enough to brave the storms, to push death out of my mind, I loved enough to disregard all flaws, and I love that about myself.

That was a question I had asked him for a long time and both of us couldn’t figure it out. Maybe it’s a question not targeted at him but targeted at myself. I needed a conclusion, the concept of either loving or not loving, when in actual fact, the greatest, most perfect love of all, from God, is enough to push death out of my own mind.

I’d like to think my love for him could possibly push his fears out, however regrettably, if only he believed in the power of love.

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AN OBSESSION WITH THE PAST 

Funnily enough, this week’s lecture in my University talked about the topic of retro culture as well! This ties in nicely with the idea in the film where characters obsess over the past and, as a result, travels through time. My lecturer says, every generation seems to admire the previous, which is exactly the same insight this film is giving. For example, millennials of today would admire the 50s or 60s; many people agree that era exactly was the golden age of art and literature. The 50s kids would then admire the 20s, and the people of the 20s era would think that the Renaissance Age is the Golden age. Perhaps why we’re constantly obsessing over the nostalgic past is because we just want to escape from our every day (unsatisfactory) lives, and the thought that we would be happier elsewhere….well, do you think that’s what’s happening to me? The fact that wished I lived in a different era.

It is said that ‘people prone to historical nostalgia tend to have a more negative view of their own past and find less satisfaction in their relationships.’

*Personal nostalgia: the past that you experienced
**Historical nostalgia: the past you never lived in, like for eg. a different era

Personal nostalgia helps people maintain a constant sense of identity through changes and traumatic experiences. It’s good. However, could it be that historical nostalgia is just escaping to the past to cope with the present? The denial of the painful present—where the dissatisfaction is great enough that someone actually prefers an era or time period from the past…

I think maybe for me, that might be true. My past hadn’t been particularly nice. Using this term loosely, I do not look forward to returning home to my past life in Singapore, for example, and my relationships with my mum and dad, and friends haven’t been exactly tip-top either. It isn’t bad either hahaha. I do admit nobody really understands me, I’m always by myself, even though I laugh and socialize pretty well. “Midnight in Paris” ultimately makes the case for choosing present-day reality over nostalgic escapism, and builds a case showing the harm in over-indulging in nostalgia.

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Not to mention my baby Tom Hiddleston is inside- as F Scott Fitzgerald. Although the scenes he appeared in are very little, funnily, coz I didn’t choose to watch this movie because of him. But he’s so dashing as usual, and this is the first time I see him light a cig!

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I am probably taking a trip again soon. Maybe, just maybe, this time, I will ditch my camera, and write my way through.