Personally, Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world— the lights, the atmosphere, the streets, the food, the culture and so much more. This is why when I was watching Woody Allen’s: “Midnight in Paris” during TOK class, I was very excited the whole time. After watching the movie, one of the aspects that I repeatedly noticed would be how the directors would portray an authority figure in art, which in this case would be Paul and Gertrude Stein; however, both are portrayed in different ways, but have the some similarities.
In my opinion, the movie portrays Paul as a person who is to be admired, listened to and respected; after all he is the expert, right? To back up what I just said, recall the time where Paul and Gil were debating about an artwork by Picasso— both men have different opinions of what the artwork portrays and means, but in the end it is Paul who is trusted as Gil is only a hollywood superstar, who is not as experienced as the other. Furthermore the movie portrays him as a person who thinks he is always right and thinks highly of himself since the art that’s being dealt in the movie are of great painters and artists. Just to give you an example of this “snobbish” attitude, this was when Paul debates with a tour guide regarding a piece of work. Paul kept on persisting that his idea was correct, even though the tour guide says otherwise! Who are you going to believe: Paul or the tour guide? I’ll leave that answer up to you. 🙂 On to the next expert, Gertrude Stein.
In the movie, Stein is portrayed as the best critic of books to be written by a writer; so much so that Ernst Hemingway only trusts Stein to critique his work. This immediately says a lot about an expert in the arts, as someone who is respected and trusted by great fellow artists. This is further seen when Gil gives Gertrude a copy of his book and receives her comments. Gil immediately accepts her comments and quickly does revisions. Yet, a difference between her and Paul is the way they conduct themselves with the rest; Paul gives a more “know-it-all” feel, while Gertrude has a more open and democratic feel to her. This means that she does not immediately demand that her opinion is the right one, rather she is also open to other opinions; you can see this when Gertrude and Picasso were debating about Picasso’s new artwork.
In conclusion, art experts are portrayed by the movie as people who are respected, followed, and admired as they possess qualities that only a few people would have. These art experts know what people would consider “great” art from “mediocre” art. Each expert has their own attitude and personality, which is one of the things that differ among them. Yet that keen eye and sharp mind that help them critique and determine “great” art is the greatest similarity that these experts possess.
With all this information about the arts, I suddenly feel nostalgic and have an urge to travel back in time to meet and experience new things. Given the chance, I would probably go back to the 1980s in New York City so that I could experience the height of Broadway. I am never really one of the people who enjoys watching musicals/plays of broadway now, yet I can’t help but wonder what it felt like to experience broadway at its finest. Perhaps the play that I would
love to know inside-and-out would be the Phantom of the Opera, as this is quite a serious play (from what I’ve heard). It would be an amazing sight to see how this play became one of the most famous shows in Broadway history and is still being shown up to today. If I were given the chance and I did take it, then probably I would be a HUGE fan of broadway right now, and watch all the plays and musicals that show here in the Philippines.
Yet, somehow I can’t help feeling but to dream that I were in another era of time just like Gil. Sometimes, I am also a victim of the “Golden Age Thinking” as described in the movie— a thought that believes other eras are more beautiful and exciting than the one we currently live in; “it is a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.” For me, this is something that is true and experienced by all people. We come to a point in our lives wherein we are tired of living in the same time with the same things everyday, and we wish for a change in scenery. Just like Gil in the movie, he wishes for a change of scenery since he is tired of the fast-paced life in Hollywood; he wants a slow-paced and artistic life, something completely different from what he is used to. Furthermore, the aspects of communication, leisure time, and processes of working all change throughout time and the new generation most likely will not experience what the previous era had. Just like these aspects, art also evolves and in my opinion there’s no “greater” art from a “greater” era. The reason is that the techniques and styles of artists also change throughout time, therefore one cannot compare the greatness of two artworks from separate eras. In conclusion, I believe that the “Golden Age Thinking” is a psychological aspect that’s normal and something that everybody experiences.