#51 of 100 on my 100 Movies I’ve Never Seen Before Challenge (part II)
Except for Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie” in 1976, the art of the silent movie has, for the most part, gone the way of the dinosaur. Once thought by many (nearly 100 years ago) to be the most pure form of cinema, silent films evolved, incorporated sound, color, etc. and Hollywood hasn’t looked back since. It’s no surprise that with the release of “The Artist”, a black and white silent movie that was also…silent– and paid tribute to the early days of Hollywood and the transition from silent movies to “talkies”, Hollywood drooled all over it and threw a ton of awards at it. After all, Hollywood loves nothing more than paying tribute to itself.
In “The Artist”, Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent film star who is faced with the choice that not all actors had in the 1920′s when sound was introduced in the film industry and studios jumped on the new technology. George can either try and make the transition and be a part of the sound renaissance or get left behind. George, however, thinks “talkies” are only a passing fad and passes on a few opportunities to appear in one of these new movies.
He meets and falls in love with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a beautiful and talented upcoming actress who can sing and dance and is more than willing to become one of the rising stars in Hollywood’s new passion, the musical. Peppy’s star rises as George’s falls. So he decides to finance, write and direct his own silent film, which opens against Peppy’s new flick and of course, audiences flock to see this new innovative film and its crazy sound. George is ruined and is forced into bankruptcy. He falls into a tail spin that eventually leads to a destructive course and a suicide attempt and the only one who can save him, is Peppy, who never stopped loving him.
Directed by French director, Michel Hazanavicius, the movie is a great tribute to what is arguably one of the greatest periods of American cinema. It’s well acted by both Dujardin and Bejo, who deserve so much for this movie being effective. It truly is more difficult to say something when you can’t actually say something.
“The Artist” is a fantastic nod to a forgotten art form. It would be great to see more silent films made. Think of what some of today’s comedians, Jim Carrey, for example, could do in a silent movie. Here is hoping in the future, Hollywood taps into this well again, but tries to expand into a comedy or even an action flick. That would be sweet.
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