Out of all the movies at the 84th Academy Awards, one movie stood out amongst the rest. Why, may you ask did this movie stand out amongst the rest? Because it was a silent film nominated at the Academy Awards, in the year 2012…
This is the one reason why The Artist peeked my interest. I was in an American Film class that semester and we had just finished up with the silent film era and watched movies starring the likes of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin. I had never watched a silent film until this class and surprisingly, I enjoyed the ones I saw. Needless to say, I was dying to see The Artist (that and a lot of people that I knew were pretty adamant in stating their disapproval over it’s Best Picture win).
The Artist is about a silent film star, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who meets a girl named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo)and inspires her to try her luck in the film industry. With the introduction of talking pictures in Hollywood, Peppy’s career starts to blossom, while George’s career and life crumbles as he tries to hold on to the past.
This movie reminded me of Singing In the Rain– minus the whole musical/comedy/romance. But the plot is similar: silent movie star finding life difficult with the introduction of the talking pictures. Whereas Singing In The Rain took more of a comedic route with the subject matter, this film looks at what it legitimately was like for those silent movie stars that fell from grace when the talkies were introduced. Basically, it sucked. The Artist also tips it’s hat off to films like Citizen Kane and Sunset Boulevard, filmmakers like Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder, and actors such as Douglas Fairbanks.
Other than one scene, a dream sequence, where George starts hearing sounds all around him but finds that he cannot talk, I did feel like I was watching a silent movie from back in the 1920s most of the time. The opening credits are that of which you would see in old movies, with a list of characters and actors, crew, etc. However, the dream sequence and the last scene of the film pull you out of that mindset, but they do so in a way that makes you as viewer not mind the transition at all.
I liked the conflict between sound and silence. These two things are made very obvious in the film. The juxtaposition of the two is shown most evidently in the characters of George (silence) and Peppy (sound). If this movie had been made with sound, being just about a fallen silent film star and the trials and tribulations he has to go through, there wouldn’t have been anything unique about this film.
At times, I felt that this movie would get dramatic to the point of stupidity (the scene where George starts a fire in his angst filled rage and then has an “OH CRAP!” moment in which he tries to escape). However, I really did enjoy this movie. I enjoyed it’s uniqueness, I enjoyed it’s cliché Hollywood ending, and I enjoyed it as an homage to old Hollywood and the past. I enjoyed The Artist.
Oh, and the dog was pretty cute to, I guess.