*engaging with art,
*engaging with the past,
*and engaging with the art of the past.
In all three films, present-day characters manage to leave some retrospective fingerprints on historical and/or cultural posterity.
The latter two are products of Woody Allen’s whimsy, separated by over twenty years. Taken together, they demonstrate the evolution of their director’s thinking about the consolations that art can provide.
“The Purple Rose of Cairo” argues, lightly but insistently, that art can delight and comfort at the moment of consumption, but will ultimately, inevitably leave its consumers empty-handed. “Midnight in Paris,” by contrast, shows an ardent cultural consumer carrying his engagement with art forward into his life, thereby transforming it.
Administer these films to tired imaginations of any age – invigorating results are guaranteed!
For a marathon: After “Midnight in Paris,” you can continue ambling through a romantic’s version of the city with “Before Sunset.”
To further engage with the conceit of the “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” check out “The Spirit of the Beehive,” in which a protagonist enters a film’s world so deeply that it ends up permeating hers. Or consider “Sleepless in Seattle,” whose characters continually reference, engage with, and internalize another soothingly escapist movie.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “DarkestIvy,” “bradleygee,” and “GenBug” at Flickr)