Although he is most connected as a filmmaker with New York City, Woody Allen considers Paris to be the Big Apple’s equal as one of the world’s great cities. Allen fell in love with the City of Light during the 1965 shooting of What’s New Pussycat, his debut film as an actor and writer. Much like Gil — the Hollywood screenwriter protagonist of Allen’s Midnight in Paris (played by Owen Wilson) — Allen is rueful about not staying there after the filming, as others on that film did.
“It was an adventure that was too bold for me at the time,” Allen recalls of the Pussycat shoot. “In retrospect I could have stayed, or at the very minimum taken an apartment and divided my time — but I didn’t, and I regret that.”
With this latest film, which he wrote and directed — and which is the second film that he has filmed in Paris, after a small bit of Everyone Says I Love You — Allen says he got great enjoyment out of presenting Paris to the cinema audience “the way I see it.”
“Just as with New York,” he explains, “where I present it one way, and other directors present it other ways, somebody else could come and shoot Paris in a completely different way. I want to present it my way, projecting my own feelings about it. … Of course I’m partial to New York because I was born there and grew up there. But if I didn’t live in New York, Paris is the place I would live.”
Helping to capture the magic of Paris, the film’s locations include some of the city’s most cherished sites, including: the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, the grounds and Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, Musée de l’Orangerie (Monet’s Water Lilies paintings, in the scene pictured above), Musée Rodin, Musée des Arts Forains, Marché Paul Bert (flea market), Rue Montagne St. Genevieve (where Gil goes at midnight), Notre Dame Garden Square – Jean XXXIII (where the museum guide translates for Gil), Place Dauphin, Maxim’s, Quai de la Tournelle (book stalls), Pont Alexandre III, as well as the restaurants Le Grand Véfour, Les Lyonnais, and Lapérouse.
“It was such a treat to spend time in these places which are usually swarming with tourists and be completely alone, with a really small camera crew, and a few actors wandering around as though it belonged to us,” says costar Rachel McAdams. “It was really magical.”
“Midnight in Paris” is available starting Dec. 20 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
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