1936. Charles Chaplin releases Modern Times, depicting the pangs of the modern life but with a form that was already outdated. In 1927, The Jazz Singer is the first (partial) talking movie. In less than a decade, Hollywood(land) stars from the silent era became silent themselves.
75 years after the last major Hollywood silent film, French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius decides to shoot a silent film. Released a few weeks before blockbusters such as Captain America: The First Avenger, the silent movie becomes a worldwide phenomenon and I believe this is a testimony to art itself. There will never be any better promotional campaign than quality itself. An intrinsic quality that shines and resonates throughout the world like magic.
When you cannot use words, you must be inventive, otherwise a silent movie becomes entirely boring and uninteresting. This is why Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton were so great. They were both physically devoted to the story.
The Artist is clearly inventive. Every scene is having at least a few excellent ideas. For instance, Peppy pressing herself against the vest of George Valentin.
And what is both extremely clever and interesting is that the film focuses on this crucial period when silent movies transitioned to talkies. Or better said when silent movies died and talkies took over. This is the story of the film. One man falling down while a young lady climbs up. There's a very interesting scene in which George has just learned that his film company has made him redundant. Peppy has just been signed and passes by him. In that particular scene, she's looking down at him from above a staircase. He looks up but he's already fallen. This simple gimmick is simply brilliant and this is just an example of the force of the film. You don't need words to convey an idea. And by removing the words entirely, you get pure emotions, such as the final scene.
I remember vividly being in the completely silenced and dark movie theater, and witnessing or should I say living this final and brilliant scene. And then the sound of the spectators weeping. I was one of those spectators. And I came back a second time, being so moved by this story. You see, I'm an admirer of silent films. Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton are my heroes. And this film is a true homage to not only silent films but to cinema itself.
Also, the power of the film is to use 1929 as the year where everything change. Since George Valentin is supposed to be an international movie star, silent or not, we imagine him as a rich person. And he is. What's very intelligent was to make him loose everything in the major stock market crash in History, during October 1929.
The release of George Valentin's self-produced movie is scheduled for October 25, 1929. The stock market will crash a day before.
And what about Jean Dujardin? He simply is George Valentin. With his gimmicks and Hollywood face, he transcends the character and gives a truly remarkable and magical performance. There are moments when watching him in black and white feels like we are within the History of cinema itself.
And his onscreen relationship with French actress Bérénice Bejo works wonderfully.
Shot logically in black and white and a 4:3 format, the film looks superb. The blacks are extremely deep.
The music is a character on its own.
And how about the dog?
I give it 10 out of 10. And believe me, I don't give this note easily. A true modern and perfect masterpiece.
I totally share the emotion expressed in the previous review.
A few weeks before its release I myself was curious, the idea that a woman of my generation could see a film of this nature (that only my grandparents could have seen in a movie theater) me fascinated. During the viewing, that emotions crossed, the various scenes are superb, we laugh, we cry, we are anxious for George Valentin during the fire ... What finesse in terms of achievement and what a tour de force on the part actors, trained to pass emotion through dialogues, usually. I came out of this film, amazed.