Me : This concept of "flaw in the .. imagination of those who can't cope with the present" and "delusion" pointing to a certain escapism as far as Gil is concerned. The movie revolves around that.
Woody Allen : Yes. Gil is a character who, for whatever reason, grudgingly goes through the motions of the present. He yearns for a "Golden Age" and lives in the notion that that particular period in time - space would be the ideal, would be his paradise or Xanadu.
Me : A lot of people suffer from this "Golden Age Thinking".
WA : I think human beings are almost always deeply dissatisfied with the situation they are in. They strive for the better. While remembering the ages past we tend to keep with us only snapshots. And certain ages we tend to think was the best time ever. We construct an image of that time and hang on to that belief because of the dissatisfaction with the present. We dare not think that the future will be that Xanadu, we assume it must be something that has passed already. Man feels that his condition has worsened ever since he came out of the womb. At the beginning all he cared about was sleeping and eating. We pooped when we wanted to and cried when we felt hungry. We did not have to struggle to survive, whatever we wanted to have was available to us. But today as adults we struggle. We fight for our daily meal, our social standing and a million other things. We then extrapolate... surely the past was the most wonderful time there was?
Me : What is wrong with this notion? It is true in a sense, is it not?
WA : It's when he sees Adriana's escapism that Gil gets his insight. He realises that he was trying to escape his unsatisfactory life into the golden age of the 1920s. He observers Adriana escaping into the 1890s and Gauguin talking about the golden age of the Renaissance. Every age thinks of another age before them as the perfect one. When you were in college you had a similar experience, you thought a previous batch was the best batch ever in the history of your college. They must've thought something similar about a batch that graduated before they did. Every age yearns for a past age. The reason for that yearning is not the truth, the drive comes from being unsatisfied with the present. It comes about when we try to escape the present instead of living and enjoying every moment of it.
Me : Live and enjoy every moment of the present?
WA : You've heard this joke about the lady and her dream. The lady has a dream where a tall dark and handsome man walks up close to her and removes the layers of his clothing one by one. Once he's naked the lady asks the man, "What happens next?". The man answers, "Lady, it's your dream. You decide". Imagine that you're living in a dream. A dream in your mind. Now just live it the way you want to. Don't think of ifs and buts. What you have with you is a beautiful thing. No one can take that away from you and no one can give it to you. It's all yours. It is you who have to decide what to do with it. Just live it!
Me : Inez does not understand Gil's need to write something more than "Hollywood hacks".
WA : Inez and Gil inhabit different worlds. Gil was brought up on good literature and his job of writing scripts does not satisfy him. That's not really what he wants. He considers himself a sellout, like he's sold his soul to the devil. He aspires for a higher path. In a sense he's a fallen angel who longs to return to heaven. Inez is carried away by Paul's self - assuredness and his achievements. She feels a sense of stability with Paul and a sense that she's missing out on a lot of things with Gil. Her priorities are different. They saw about Leslie McFarlane, the author of Hardy Boys, that he was immensely ashamed of his work. He considered them a nuisance and the only reason he wrote the Hardy Boys series was to pay the bills. However, a person who had read nothing but Hardy Boys would not understand Leslie's feeling. It is in this same way that Inez is not touched by Gil's urge to write a novel.
Me : Hemingway comes across as rather brusque, in a sense, always looking to pick up a fight or something.
WA : He's honest to the point of being a little brusque. But what do you know about Hemingway?
Me : Not much really...
WA : Then shut up. I know him, Ok? You want to settle the matter over a fight? Do you box?
Me : Now you're talking like the Hemingway character in your movie.
WA : I'm just a figment of your imagination, I'm just doing it the way you want me to.
Me : Go to sleep
WA : Ooh.. look who's sleepy
Me : Shut up or I'll punch ya
WA : Oh you gonna punch me? you gonna punch ME?
We leave my imagination there. It needs to take some rest.
ps : In case you haven't recognised it yet, this isn't an actual conversation between me and Woody Allen. It's just me trying to get some words into my blog.
Update : Woody Allen just won the Original Screenplay Oscar for Midnight in Paris. Yayyyy!!! :)