Acquiring a substantial amount of background knowledge is not only essential, but quite fundamental when appreciating or understanding a film better. Not only does background knowledge enhance ones education, it allows for the film to be seen in a different aspect then previously viewed in. Throughout Midnight in Paris it is quite apparent that the iconic figures of Paris are known to many, but the underlying characters that play just as extensive roles, may not be known to many. This is a perfect place where the application of background knowledge becomes immensely useful.
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Background knowledge becomes very useful when it comes to the connection of characters. Throughout Midnight in Paris an array of artists, authors, and iconic 1920’s figures are introduced. Some are very recognizable while others may be quite unfamiliar or even unknown. By studying Paris in the 1920’s so many of these artists and authors become introduced through their pieces of art and literature. Midnight in Paris not only shows the artists and authors but it shows many of their greatest works. By previous studying of these artists or authors work, one can have a better input on what the art represents, rather than someone who has never heard or seen of this work. In Midnight in Paris Paul is very familiar with the work of Rodin. Having previous background knowledge he is able to put his own opinion on the Thinker. Paul had a wonderful depiction of the Thinker, “he thinks not just with his brain, he thinks with every limb and muscle” (Mancuso).With the background knowledge on a specific piece of work, the film can become one’s own interpretation allowing for a better appreciation.
By reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway it was rather easy to distinguish the true personalities of some of Midnight in Paris’ main characters. Hemingway was very close to Gertrude Stein, he allowed for her to review and revise many of his writings. Fast-forwarding to Midnight in Paris Stein is portrayed as an intelligent, knowledgeable, and effectual woman. Stein not only edits the work of Gil Pender she aids within the art world. Next was Hemingway’s best friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was described, by Hemingway, as occupying natural talent and being truly compassionate. Midnight in Paris greatly shows these attributes Hemingway had described. Fitzgerald shows an everlasting love for his wife Zelda, along with accepting any dreams she has and going along with them. Lastly there is the description of Zelda by Hemingway. Hemingway describes Zelda as having a “deep-south manner and accent” (180)and the fact that she always sustained a “very bad hangover” (179). Midnight in Paris held up to Hemingway’s description perfectly. The second Zelda is introduced, her distinguished southern accent is heard loud and clear. Hemingway had described Zelda as always being very badly hung-over; she clearly proves “her talent really lies in drinking” (Mancuso). This background knowledge is crucial when understanding Midnight in Paris better. It allows for Hemingway’s descriptions to be put to life and seen instead of read.
One of the most helpful ways to understand or appreciate a film better is by understanding the time period in which the film takes place in. Midnight in Paris is based off the lively 1920’s Paris scene. Not only is Paris alive and radiant, it hosts many opportunities for personal and career growth. Hemingway was enthralled by the beauty Paris expressed, “if you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest ofyour life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” (Hemingway) By reading A Moveable Feast, Hemingway makes it very straightforward how iconic Paris truly was. Even Gil Pender from Midnight in Paris agrees with Hemingway’s stated excellence on Paris, “There’s no city like this in the world” (Midnight in Paris). Through the background knowledge of Hemingway it allows for a new appreciation of the time period itself, rather than just acknowledgement. The elegance and desire of many to live in Paris expresses itself by the way Hemingway constantly repeats his love for Paris.
All and all, although previous background knowledge is not essential to enjoying a film, it is a wonderful contribution to understanding or appreciating a film better. Background knowledge not only helps in the long run for education, it can allow for a connection of characters and an appreciation of that era. By reading A Moveable Feast Hemingway gave new light, and a few bad reputations, to many of Midnight in Paris’ main characters. Secondly by carefully examining Hemingway’s love for Paris, Midnight in Paris is much more appreciated knowing that Paris is a beautiful, opportunistic city full of life.
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