Commonplace 8: Midnight in Paris

“I believe that love that is true and real, creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And then the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino-hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave… It is because they make love with sufficient passion, to push death out of their minds… until it returns, as it does, to all men… and then you must make really good love again.” -Ernest Hemingway, “Midnight in Paris”

I chose this particular quote for this week’s Commonplace because I was truly taken aback by its contents when I stumbled upon it. After a long, cold, and exhausting spring break, which I do believe counters its actual purpose, I sat down to complete an assignment and turned on Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” in the background. I’ve always loved this movie, but in watching it this time around, I was particularly drawn to Ernest Hemingway’s character. The above quote is presented in a quasi-mocking fashion, as if mimicking Hemingway’s classic short sentence structure and abrasive rhetoric. Yet the scene achieves the direct opposite, and it is certainly one of the most moving and inspiring moments in the entire movie. The protagonist, Gil, faced with the realities of love and death, finds guidance and comfort in a literary hero that may or may not be a figment of his imagination. The concept is radical, yet Hemingway’s words echo so true and so real. The crossover of the rhetorical situation of the quote and Hemingway’s actual words are contradictory but still incredibly fitting for the movie itself.

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