I saw Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen, with my wife last weekend. We were the youngest members of the audience, a fact that isn’t surprising considering the Transformers 3 opening weekend was playing in the theater next door. Despite the older crowd, the viewing was not really that different than Transformers. When the first Transformers movie came out, the patriarch’s, Optimus Prime, first screen appearance was greeted with cheering and clapping from the audience. During the viewing of Midnight in Paris, a patriarch of literature, Ernest Hemingway, got the same whooping audience reaction.
In fact, the audience was a lively and active crowd. Maybe they needed to compete with Los Angeles being destroyed next door or is interactive behavior just a part of the movie going experience? After a good film, we clap for the filmmaker that probably is in a swanky hotel room sleeping with a teddy bear (not all film makers do hookers and blow you know). We cheer for our heroes and climb out of seat during a surprising moment (remember that movie where Hugh Grant got together with his love interest in the most unusual of circumstances? That freaked my shit out!).
Why do we interact with movies? Is it roll over evolution from Greek theatre?
Oedipus: And that’s why we tell yo mamma jokes! Good night folks! You were wonderful!
Audience One: Brilliant! I love this play.
Audience Two: I know man! It’s like so cathartic!
Audience One: It’s totally fun to scream when the patriarch Oedipus takes the stage.
Audience Two: Dude! Bro! I totally got a crazy idea!
Audience One: What bro?
Audience Two: Let’s steal Xerxes’ camel.
The next day, in Xerxes’ tent:
Xerxes: Dude, where’s my camel?
Ashton Kutcher: You have a tattoo that says “Sweet”.
Or do we interact with movies because somehow they interact with us? Do they show us lives that we’ve wanted to live. In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson, unhappy with his life, jumps back in time to the 20’s. He roars with the best of them but only finds the best of them want to be in a different era as well. In fact, no matter what era, people seem to look at other times as the idealized better era. I’ve always been that way about the future. Unlike Owen Wilson, if given a chance to time travel, I’d go forward.
Am I unhappy with the time I am in? I love now. (If you read this later, it will be then. But I’d probably still love the now you are reading this from. Unless you are living in a cave after a thermal nuclear war and this post is all humanity has left of the prewar era. I better explain all of history in case that happens. People fought each other and invented stuff.) The science fiction fan in myself is always pleased about now. We have libraries and vast music collections that can fit in the palm of our hands. That happened in my life time.
I’d still love to see the future. If I could time travel, I’d pick the future. I would not go so far in the future that my twenty first century brain will be baffled and totally unable to comprehend what I saw (Beings of Pure Light: Welcome, Aaron, writer of history. People fought each other and invented stuff.) But far enough to see what I may never see, given the constraints currently from mortality.
Maybe I do watch movies for the chance to live in another time. My wife and I are currently going through the The Next Generation on Netflix. And honestly, how cool would that be to travel on a starship? What about you? The readers… yes the people reading this blog. Where would you travel if you could travel in time? Please comment below.