The Fox Journal

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The Artist” dazzles worldwide audiences, revisits classic Hollywood form

By Colton Dunham

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice  Bejo star in 2011’s best picture <em>The Artist</em>.

photo compliments of The Weinstein Company.
Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo star in 2011’s best picture The Artist.

The Artist (2011)

Rated: PG-13

Written and Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, and James Cromwell

Running Time: 100 minutes

In the midst of big budget summer blockbusters, sequels and 3D extravaganzas, the most talked about film of the year is Michel Hazanavicius’ monochromatic silent film, The Artist.

The film, a wonderful presentation of late 1920’s Hollywood, captivated film critics and aficionados all over the world when it premiered at Cannes Film Festival last fall.

Audiences were amazed, but a little skeptical of a black-and-white silent film in the modern era.

As the film made its way across the world, the skepticism was quickly diminished, and even charmed the art house community.

The story centers on an energetic, vain and popular star of the silent film era George Valentin (Jean Dujardin).

Think of him as that era’s George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

He stars in the most successful silent films and audiences love him for his charm and enthusiasm on the silver screen.

After a premiere, he accidently bumps into a young beauty by the name of Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).

She is a young woman who dreams of Hollywood stardom.

What appeared to be an embarrassing incident turns into a news story as Hollywood asks, “Who’s that girl?” Only a short time later, people wouldn’t be asking who she is.

She takes Hollywood by storm as Hollywood itself is quickly adapting to new filmmaking technologies.

She quickly makes her way to the top in Hollywood and becomes the starlet she has dreamed of becoming.

As some dreams begin, some dreams fade away.

The introduction of “talkies,” film pictures with sound, threatens the future of the silent film era in Hollywood.

When this occurs, George Valentin’s life spirals out of control.

The film is exceptional with truly Oscar worthy performances by stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

They both grace the black-and-white screen with their presence.

Another performance that needs to be mentioned is George’s on-screen and off-screen companion Uggie, the dog.

Uggie made the audience snicker with his ability to play dead and work well with Jean Dujardin.

Although the actors in the film don’t speak a word of dialogue, they both express powerful emotions that don’t need verbal communication.

It’s a truth among film enthusiasts that the power of cinema relies on its imagery.

That statement couldn’t be more boldly true when it comes to The Artist.

The beautiful cinematography accompanied by a classical music score brought a sense of magic to the film.

What is astounding is the fact that director Michel Hazanavicius took a very big chance in directing a black-and-white silent film.

Silent film is a format in which the modern audience can’t relate to because it’s been decades since talkies revolutionized Hollywood.

If you would have told anyone five years ago that a black-and-white silent film would be taking home some of the world’s most important film awards, people would strap you into a straitjacket and lock you in a cell with minimal sunlight.

After finally seeing this film, I can understand why it has been taking home most of the major film awards.

The film was nominated for a total of ten Academy Awards, and won five awards of this prestige for costume design, musical score, directing, Best Actor and Best Picture.

There have been reports of people demanding refunds because they weren’t expecting a silent film.

Although it’s true that some people may find watching a black- and-white silent film uncomfortable, The Artist can be appreciated by anyone who is willing to give silence and art a chance.



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