Guest Author - Katy Cacolice
For over 70 years, silent film had become a lost art in Hollywood. That was until 2011, when the French film The Artist emerged and captured the hearts of millions of movie goers. Set between 1927 and 1932, the film follows the romance of a beloved silent movie star, who makes a harsh exit from the film industry, and a fresh, young actress who arrives on the scene as the era of talkies begins.
For 100 minutes of illustrious English inter-titles and inaudible dialogue, audiences really can't feel that the movie is 'silent' due to the beautiful score of Ludovic Bource. Through the scenes of dazzling romance, adventure, and despair, the music takes you on an unforgettable journey of the characters' emotions and the story. The score is almost entirely originally - with only one scene score borrowed by Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), which caused great disapproval by Vertigo star Kim Novak. Only one song, sung by Rose "Chi-Chi" Murphy, uses lyrics. It's a jazzy little track titled "Pennies from Heaven" - which perfectly describes the rising star Peppy Miller.
Besides the wonderful score, director Michel Hazanavicius really toys with the sound in The Artist. In one particular scene taken place during a nightmare, Georg Valentin's fear of having to speak overwhelms him. He is petrified over the inability to speak but hears the sounds of objects being knocked over, people laughing, and a feather crashing into the concrete. These simple sound-effects are a powerful additive to the story. Besides one moment towards the energetic ending, this one of the many moments of The Artist where you see its pure artistry.
What makes the film complete, and gives it that extra dash of charm, is the wonderfully delightful performances of French stars, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, as Georg Valentin and Peppy Miller, respectively. As a Classic Hollywood fan, their performances brought up pure joy. Their body language and mannerism are true odes of silent stars gone by, which did not stop a smiling from creeping up on my face. With a fair amount of solo and duo scenes, the pair have true dynamic charisma that are reminders of legendary screen icons such as Rudolph Valentino and Louise Brooks.
In a sea of B-rated remakes of 80s classics, The Artist is a genuine tribute to the silent film era. Whether you're a modern movie goer, or fan of Classic Hollywood, The Artist is something to definitely watch. The pure artistry of the film will have you talking long after you've seen it.