Midnight in Paris (2011) - Movie Review for Parents and Teachers | Student Handouts
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Midnight in Paris (2011)
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Midnight in Paris (2011) Guide and Review for Teachers and Parents Length: 94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)

Age appropriateness: Midnight in Paris is rated "PG-13" in the United States. The film includes cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. There is no nudity, but there are a few sexual references. This film is safe for teenagers in grades seven and up.

Review: Midnight in Paris is an enjoyable romantic comedy that pays homage to the artistic legacy of Paris, France. The plot involves an aspiring novelist (Owen Wilson) who, while visiting the city with his fiancee and future in-laws, finds himself traveling back in time to Paris in the 1920s, where he is thrilled to meet artists, famous personalities, and writers such as Alice B. Toklas, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Josephine Baker, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot, and Zelda Fitzgerald. During his time travels to what he sees as a golden age, the novelist meets a budding couturier, played by Marion Cotillard. The novelist and couturier together travel further back in time, to Paris in the 1890s.

The young woman decides that the 1890s--to her, the past--was the true golden age, and decides to stay in this period and live among artists like Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The novelist then concludes that just as he himself suffered from this psychological phenomenon when first arriving in Paris, the young woman is feeling what is commonly called "golden age syndrome"--the belief that the present is basically worthless, because all great things occurred in some previous golden age. He decides to remain in Paris in the present, hopefully creating his own golden age.

Midnight in Paris in enjoyable from beginning to end, and should be liked by both teenagers and adults. The acting and directing are superb. More importantly, from an educational perspective, this movie offers a fun and entertaining introduction to leading artistic and literary figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hopefully, this film will spark students' interest in learning more about these characters.

Creators and stars: Adrien Brody, Adrien de Van, Alison Pill, Carla Bruni, Corey Stoll, Daniel Lundh, David Lowe, Gad Elmaleh, Kathy Bates, Kurt Fuller, Laurent Spielvogel, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Mimi Kennedy, Nina Arianda, Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Sonia Rolland, Therese Bourou-Rubinsztein, Tom Cordier, Tom Hiddleston, Woody Allen, Yves Heck

Accuracy: Midnight in Paris is set in Paris, France, in the present day, and features a protagonist who is able to travel back in time to the 1920s and 1890s. The costumes and sets look authentic for each time period. There are a lot of interesting historical touches in the film, including present-day scenes at the modern-day Shakespeare and Company bookshop (the original store, at a different location, was owned by Sylvia Beach, and was where Ezra Pound met Ernest Hemingway in 1922). Click here to enlarge the film poster.
Vocabulary terms: abstract, can-can, defeatist, discretion, golden age, La Belle Epoque, Lost Generation, memorabilia, nostalgia, novel, Paris, Parisian, pedantic, screenplay, surrealism

Discussion and review questions: (1) Name three artists that Gil meets. (2) Name three writers that Gil meets. (3) Define "golden age syndrome" in your own words. (4) Do you believe that people tend to imagine that the past was better than it actually was? Explain your answer. (5) If you could travel back in time, where and when would you like to visit? Why?
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Midnight in Paris Movie Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: June 9, 2012