In Woody Allen's most recent whimsical screen romance, young American couple Gill and Inez (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) find themselves in Paris, the city of Gill's creative, romantic and all-pervading fantasies. Trouble is, all of Gill's aspirations are based on the city of the 1920s and, fair enough, could there be any time and place more glamorous or evocative?
This is solved, in typical Woody Allen fashion, by Gill's transportation, via a stylish vintage jalopy, into the 1920s of his dreams and encounters with a bunch of iconic characters, sent to guide, advise and distract our contemporary wanderer.
To celebrate the DVD release of Midnight in Paris, for which Allen has already won a Golden Globe for the screenplay, and for which he's currently in receipt of Oscar nominations for writing and directing, here's the Huffington Post UK’s quick Dinner Party Guide to just five of the luminaries whom Gill encounters on his time-travelling adventure:
Ernest Hemingway (played by Corey Stoll):
We meet Hemingway based in Paris with the first of his four wives, shortly after writing arguably his most celebrated book, A Farewell to Arms, a chronicle of his experiences in World War I, which secured his reputation as one of the most accurate, if unidealistic, chroniclers of the human condition.
Meanwhile, his larger-than-life persona and appetite for self-destruction secured his enduring status as one of the 20th century's great characters.
The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls further elevated his stature, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He moved from Paris to Cuba, to Key West in Florida, to Idaho, where he finally shot himself with his favourite shotgun in 1961.
F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill):
In the film, Hemingway warns Fitzgerald of Zelda, "she’ll drive you crazy." Sure enough, the Fitzgeralds were as well known for the damage they caused each other as for their wit, glamour, creative talents and the centre-stage position they occupied in American society during the Jazz Age, a term Fitzgerald himself coined. Somehow between all the partying, revelling and tending to the increasingly fragile Zelda, he found time to write four novels, but was forced to write for his supper in the studio system of Hollywood, where he died aged only 44. His first novel, The Great Gatsby, remains required reading for anyone wishing to deconstruct the American dream.
Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates):
We find her holding court in a salon peopled by people like Pablo Picasso. In reality, Stein was a writer and poet who moved to Paris aged 29 and spent the rest of her life there. But her fame and legacy was created in most part by her expansive art patronage, which meant, along with her brother Leo, Stein "collected geniuses, not masterpieces" according to contemporary art critic Henry McBride. Works by Cezanne, Renoir, Gauguin and Matisse all found a place on the walls of her gallery at Rue De Fleurus, while Picasso was often there in person to soak up the rarefied, creative atmosphere.
Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody):
The Spanish artist's grandiose manner, appearance, living arrangements and moustache often overshadowed his Surrealist artistic influence and legacy, particularly in the field of Cubism. Dali made his first visit to Paris in 1926, when he befriended one of his great idols Picasso. Dali later relocated to Catalonia in Spain, where his fans included King Juan Carlos who visited him on his deathbed in 1989.
Cole Porter (Yves Heck):
The American composer's popularity was sealed with constant classics Anything Goes, I Get a Kick Out Of You, Night and Day, I've Got You Under My Skin and scores more. Following an initial failure to establish himself on Broadway, Porter moved to Paris in 1917, where his luxurious salon became a breeding ground for extravagance, opulence and sometimes scandal. As Porter's fortunes later grew through music and inheritance, he and his wife Linda eventually decamped for an even more luxurious lifestyle among the palaces of Venice.
Midnight in Paris is available now on DVD. You can watch the trailer below: