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Ah, the strike of midnight. Whether you offer us the promise of a new year with a fresh start or were the curfew set by our parents in high school, you always have a way of marking our lives. We are not the only ones under your influence; many characters in pop culture care about your chimes.

Cinderella

If you are going to think about a girl under a strict curfew, you will immediately think of Cinderella. Not only does her fairy godmother think she can dictate the time she comes home (midnight, of course), but her clothes and ride fall into disarray once the clock’s two hands touch 12. While we know this sort of magic is a major bummer for Cinderella, we are sure many parents reading the tale to their children wonder how they can bottle that up for their kids’ teenage years.

 

Gremlins

We know that there are diets out there that discourage eating late at night, but this movie takes the concept a little too far. One of the basic rules for the care and keeping of the cute mogwai is never feed them after midnight. If you do, they turn into green, unattractive Gremlins that create more havoc than coeds at a frat party. We are not usually prone to paranoia, but we may have been extra careful to feed our dogs well before midnight after seeing the film.

 

Midnight in Paris

If we needed an excuse to go to Paris, we certainly have one now. When Gil gets drunk and lost in some Parisian side streets, he climbs into a car and is transported to 1920s Paris. Who does he get to party with as a result of this midnight time travel? Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, the Fitzgeralds, and Salvador Dali. He even gets his writing critiqued by Gertrude Stein. If that isn’t our definition of heaven, then we don’t know what is. If you ever see us wandering the backstreets of Paris at midnight, now you will know why.

 

Before Midnight

In the last installment of the Before trilogy, Jesse and Celine discuss their relationship’s past and future before midnight. As in many Richard Linklater films, it is really hard to describe the plot because the film consists primarily of talking heads (and not of the David Byrne variety). The major takeaway is that all martial problems should be solved before the clock strikes twelve, especially if you are in Europe.

 

Into the Woods

In keeping with the fairytale tradition, the characters are subjected to the arbitrary midnight deadline. The simile-loving witch tells the Baker and his wife to get a list of four items (i.e. a cow as white as milk) “before midnight in three day’s time.” Bound by this oddly specific and syntactically-convoluted deadline, the Baker and his wife search for the items in the woods. Whenever the clock strikes midnight, the characters yell out about how many midnights they have left to complete the task. As if that weren’t enough clock-watching for you, the Witch dramatically sings “Last Midnight” before she disappears. Moral of the story: if you want to give anyone a deadline, midnight is your best bet. 


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Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at www.thebookishfox.com.