Why make a silent, black and white film in the age of 3D and CG animation?
It’s a fair question. Afterall, the modern audience has come to expect a certain amount of spectacle in their story telling.
Don’t be fooled by its old school appearance, “The Artist,” has plenty of spectacle, just maybe not the kind we’re use to.
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, this fun comedy may stray from the modern norm of film making, but it’s nothing new.
The film harkens back to a simpler time when movie stars were just a little less human, and a little more perfect.
George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the star of the silent silver screen, but Hollywood is changing quickly. Audiences are no longer settling for seeing their favorite stars on the screen, they want to hear them too.
Enter Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) a star-struck young woman who becomes the “It” girl overnight after a brief meet-cute run in with Valentin.
As Valentin’s star falls, Peppy’s career shoots to the top when she becomes the new face of Kinograph Studios at the dawn of the talkies.
This being a classic Hollywood style comedy, it all works out in the end, but not without a few bumps along the way.
Of course, all of this happens without a word ever being uttered (more or less), and a gorgeous score by Ludovic Bource playing us through.
Despite being what some would dub, an “artsy” film, it never comes across as overly highbrow or pretentious.
Jean Dujardin as George Valentin brings to mind actors like Clark Gable and Gene Kelly, with his easy charm and lightness of foot. While Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller is infectious with her, well, peppiness (her name is fitting). And I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the memorable performance given by Uggie as the dog. Uggie and Dujardin have some adorable scenes together that remind us just how fun the movies can be.
So, to answer the earlier question: Why make a silent, black and white film?
Because we can learn a lot about the present by exploring the past. We may not be living at the advent of sound in motion pictures, but we’re definitely witnesses to the dawn of a new kind of storytelling.
While all the bells and whistles that come along with modern films are entertaining, they’re not always necessary. Good, fun storytelling speaks for itself, and it doesn’t even require all that pesky dialogue.
Check out more of 2WC’s film reviews: The Crusade on Cinema
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