Midnight in Paris

Did anyone else see “Midnight in Paris?”  Were they as taken with it as I was?  Of course, we historical novelists all want to find that magical time machine that will whisk us back to the past and plonk us right down in the company of our characters.  It was a charming movie that asked some serious questions.

I had a trip to Paris planned long before I saw the movie, but I’m glad I saw it just before I left.  I was able to track down the spot where they filmed the cab coming slowly up the windy cobbled street, stopping to take our hero off to 1920s Paris.  I sat and waited but nothing like that came along for me.  Alas, I’m still stuck with using my bare imagination to go back in time.

I had already gotten the addresses of the places where Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald (who appear in the movie) as well as Jim Morrison (emphatically not in the movie) had lived.  I wasn’t surprised to find that Fitzgerald’s part of town was much swankier than Hemingway’s.  And Jim Morrison’s apartment (described as ‘non-descript’) was actually rather attractive.  I don’t know what it was about Paris that made these men feel they could write better there.  I had a desire to rent an apartment myself and find out.

I followed Jim Morrison out to the cemetery where his grave attracts more people than anyone else’s.  It was almost the 40 year anniversary of his death so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there.  The crowd-control barricades were having no luck in keeping out his fans, who clambered over and left their offerings of wine bottles, candles, and cigarettes on the grave.  A group of French teenagers asked me to take their photo next to the tombstone and I did.  They said they wished they had lived then.  I told them that wouldn’t be so good, as then they would be almost 70, but they insisted they’d rather have been born 60 years ago.  I felt like I was in “Midnight in Paris” for real, for the characters there keep wishing they were in another era.

The cemetery also houses Abelard and Heloise, Collette, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Moliere, and hoards of others.  Any one of them could have–and has—made excellent material for us historical novelists. And now they are so quiet.  It wasn’t carved on his tomb, but Moliere said, “We only die once—and for such a long time.”

That is, until a novel or a movie brings them back to life.


9 thoughts on “Midnight in Paris”

  1. hello mrs. george 🙂 my name is mayra and i ‘m not sure how these blogs work, and forgive me if i post this in the wrong place, but i have a question: have you ever thought of writing the story of persephone and hades as a novel? I think your books are some of the best I have ever read, my personal favourite is The Memoirs of Cleopatra.

    keep up your awesome writing!

  2. So where is the “Midnight in Paris” taxi street? We’re in Paris one more night and would like to know.

  3. Hi Bruce—
    Here is the information about Paris that I used—it worked!

    “But now it’s time to go back in time, moving deeper into the Left Bank by ascending the rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve, one of Paris’ most ancient streets. Turning away from the Seine, toward the Metro stop Maubert-Mutualite, one can spot it.
    Despite a history dating from antiquity, the street today, paved and bustling, is undistinguished – until the end of the journey. At the top of the hill, cobblestones appear as the street spills onto a church, Saint-Etienne du Mont, first built in the 12th century.
    Here, Gil, waiting on the church steps, was thrust back in time into the Paris of his dreams, a carefree, chaotic world of creation. With the Pantheon, where France has buried its heroes, just steps away, we are in the realm of greatness. But will the average traveler experience the same kind of magic as Allen’s hero.”

  4. Hi Mayra,
    I think you’ve signed up fine. (I’m not sure how these blog things work, either.) Thanks for your compliment—I loved writing Memoirs of Cleopatra so I’m glad you love it, too.
    Funny you suggested that topic. Persephone is my favorite goddess. When I was in Greece I looked for Persephone items (vases, statues, etc) and they are hard to find. I also visited Eleusis and it was pretty deserted so I had it all to myself. Did you ever read “Til We have Faces” by C.S. Lewis? It’s about the only novel about Persephone I know of. In “Helen of Troy” I have Persephone as her patron goddess.

    Maybe I could write the story. Hmmm….I hadn’t considered it before. Thanks for suggesting it.

  5. well i have never read that book, but i’ll be sure to look it up 🙂 I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Persephone and Hades, and i’ve always wondered whether or not eventually persephone came to love him, since most myths i read just show Hades dark, evil, and lustful side. I’ve searched for a story that I guess makes them both seem more human and softer at some level.

    well i hope you can make time to write a novel version of that story, I’m sure if you did it would be great like all your other works!

    ps I also very much enjoyed reading “Helen of Troy”, wonderful book!

  6. I believe there was another book that featured Persephone, a historical novel called “Alcestis.” Alcestis had gone down to Hades and that’s where she met them. They were pretty well developed characters, although of course they weren’t the main ones.

    I think she came to love Hades…but that’s just my interpretation. Some people say maybe she ate the pomegranate seeds on purpose so she would *have* to stay there.

  7. Hi Margaret-
    Enjoyed your “Elizabeth I.” I just completed my own historical: “THE LAST DAYS OF VERSAILLES”, on Kindle for your reading pleasure. Two weeks of recounting took me 3 years of research & writing!
    Hope I put you in the period as you did for me.

  8. I am about to buy and read Elizabeth I and came to your site to find out more about you. If you liked so much “Midnight in Paris” we alredy have a lot in common. I’ve first seen the movie on a transatlantic flight towards Belgium, last year. I was nervous as I always am when flying (not being born with wings I’m uncomfortable being up in the air), but then I chose to see Midnight because I like Woody Allen. I can tell you, this and a Hennessy cognac made me finally feel on vacation, as I actually was, with not a care in the world, not caring even if the plane was to go down. I only hope that your “Elizabeth I” will take me deep into that part of the world and hystory that I so much love and would keep me there for awhile.
    I will write to you after I read it. I’m quite sure that it will delight me.

    Thank you,

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