Is it a flaw in the romantic imagination to believe another time period is better than one’s own?
In Midnight in Paris, a screenwriter played by Owen Wilson, and his whiny fiancee played by Rachel McAdams, accompany her parents to Paris. Her Dad says that France never did anything for America. He’s apparently unaware of the irrefutable fact that America could never have won independence without French aid. No one can write “know it alls” who don’t “know it all” as well as Woody Allen! Gil dreams of living in Paris in the 20s.
Gil gets his chance to live in 20s Paris when an antique Peugeot —just like one his friend has in Beverly Hills — picks him on a Paris corner at midnight, and takes him to the nights when Hemingway, Scott and Zelda, Picasso, and Gertrude Stein reigned over Paris. Hemingway lights up this movie! And Gil, unhappy in the present, has the option of staying in the 20s. Another character, played by Best Actress Oscar winner, Marion Cotillard, gets her chance to stay in her favorite period, Belle Epoque. They make different choices.
Before I wrote Splendid Summer, I thought about writing a contemporary romance and mystery set in Coronado. With the Navy an inherent part of Coronado, and making huge sacrifices at war, it didn’t feel right. I wanted to write about a time of joy and prosperity when no one worried about loved ones on deployment. And so I returned to the 20s.