I realise I’m quite late in adding my views of The Artist to the chorus of support that has already embraced it. As you will probably have heard already (or witnessed yourself, if you have seen the film), it is a wonderful picture, a film that has the power to speak to anyone and everyone. And it’s a silent film. Who would have thought that, in the age when studios and filmmakers try to con audiences into thinking we need 3D in order to be completely immersed in a picture, a film that adopts a classic, black and white, silent-movie format with a 4:3 aspect ratio would win the hearts of audiences and award ceremonies the world over?
The director, Michel Hazanavicius, is famous in France for comedy spy-spoofs which send up the Bond franchise. I must confess I haven’t seen his other pictures – they received a very limited release in Britain – but I will certainly be seeking them out.
The story sees a silent movie star named George Valentin (played by the brilliantly likable French actor Jean Dujardin) pushed aside by a young actress, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), who was mentored by George only to overtake him when sound-pictures become popular.
The film offers a beautiful love story, with intelligent nods to Singing in the Rain, and stunning technical delights. The rich cinematography, imaginative use of sound (the film does, in a couple of instances, use digetic sound to great comic effect), and one of the best onscreen dog actors the world has seen, all contribute in making The Artist a joyful celebration of cinema at its best.
The Artist (2011), directed by Michel Hazanavicius, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate PG.