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Writers in Paradise
Once the writing process on BEFORE MIDNIGHT was truly afoot, with an outline and Greek setting decided on, producers Christos V. Konstantakopoulos (Take Shelter, Attenberg, Somebody Up There Likes Me) and Woodhatch assembled the writers (along with fortunate spouses and children) to hash out the final script. "We wanted to create the best creative environment for them to write in -- a bubble, just a fabulously idyllic setting with no outside diversions. We set them up at Costa Navarino, the gorgeous resort in Messinia where the hotel scenes in the film were shot. To watch the creative dynamism is mesmerizing -- it's like they have invisible elastic bands between them. They audition funny parts and sad parts for each other to see if they work, and it's so compelling."

The camera may be trained squarely on Celine and Jesse, but when it breaks away to take in the surroundings, Greece itself -- beautiful, troubled, ancient, modern -- becomes a character in the film. "There was just something about Greece," says Linklater. "We find Jesse and Celine in a sort of paradise: they're together, he's writing books, she's an environmentalist, they have children -- I mean so much of what they probably wanted to have happen in their lives has come to pass, and yet here they are on this idyllic summer vacation, and all is not perfect, it never is."

"There's no more moving place to be in Europe than Greece right now," says Hawke, "Because it's both intensely ancient and it's very present as a modern force. It's in the news every day. But romantic love is timeless -- love is always new and it's always been done before. Everybody's doing it. Kids are falling in love -- you know, there's a new set of before sunrises every day. It's a well-worn path and it's infinitely interesting to us, to humans. Eros is a very mysterious god, because he's both the youngest and the oldest. Greece conjures up a longing for some meaning in life, which I think is valuable as a metaphor to the film."

Says Delpy, "It made memorizing the lines and shooting those scenes a little less painful because we were in the most amazing place I've ever been -- this ancient place where western civilization basically started, you know?"

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