Magic Realism is a subcategory of fiction defined as “a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy.” Woody Allen uses magic realism in a vastly different way than WP Kinsella does in Shoeless Joe. In “Midnight in Paris”, Allen uses magic realism to allow the character to extend beyond the bounds of nature to serve a point.
This film’s use of magic realism is very clean and organized in that the viewer can easily follow the plot and understand, and in turn enjoy the film.
Gil is convinced that he would love to live in 1920’s Paris because it was the ‘Golden Age. Allen uses magic realism so that both Gil and the viewer can travel back in time and see this period firsthand. Once Gil befriends many of the period’s greatest artists and writers such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, TS Elliot, Van Gogh, and Dali, he finds himself enthralled by their expertise.
Multiple times he asks characters about the ‘Golden Age and that he wished he lived then and he is shocked to find out that they don’t think it’s the Golden Age. Adriana even says she wishes she lived in the Belle Époque of the 1880s and they travel back even further to this period. This is when Gil splits with her because he realizes he wants to return to the 1920s. This is when the moral of the story shines through which, in my opinion, is: ‘satisfaction is only temporary.
Once you’ve been in one place for a while, you begin to long for another place and desire to experience it just as you have in your current period.
Also, Woody Allen uses magic realism to show that people who long for the past, who are nostalgic, are just trying to run away from the present. Magic realism acts as the ‘glue’ or medium between the 21st century and the 1920s, allowing Allen to stretch the boundaries of reality. Allen’s use of magic realism takes the reader for an entertaining, yet somewhat believable ride around Paris, without leaning into the category of fantasy or science fiction.