Margaret Perry Movies

Let's Talk Film

The Artist

on 20 J00000012America/Chicago, 2011

This is the absolute best picture I have seen in a very long time and everybody with any sense should find a theatre where it is playing, even if you have to go to the next town over, and see it now. It will be at all the awards shows so you had better see it now so that you know what all the hype is about.

I don’t know how I first heard about The Artist. It might have been mentioned on FlickChick’s Facebook page, a forum for all old-time-movie lovers. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, The Artist is a 2011 silent movie, although, to call it silent is to underestimate the very clever use of sound employed by the movie-makers. The story opens in the mid-1920s with a young, handsome, famous silent film star, George Valentin. He meets a young female fan, Peppy Miller, who is working her way up the ladder of the movie business. When sound pictures are introduced in the late-’20s, his career starts to plummet while her’s takes off like a rocket. The plot is not very complex; as he falls lower and lower into depression, she becomes more successful and attempts to help her fallen idol. The Artist is full of laughs, accompanied by some tears. But most importantly, it touches on a very basic human quality: what it means to feel and to care.

Although the film does not have spoken dialogue, sound is very artfully used throughout the film. Not only is the musical score superb, the sound effects play an integral part in the story. It somehow seems unfair to call the movie silent. The subtle use of sound gives The Artist unimaginable depth that is only possible in a silent movie. It is very important for prospective audiences to know that the lack of spoken dialogue in no way slows down this movie, nor does it make it difficult to understand. The beautiful camera work, sound technique, and excellent timing on the actors’ part gives this movie a definite snap, crackle, and pop.

A lover of silent movies myself, I can greatly appreciate the historical accuracy not only of the story, but of the style of the film itself. The director and cutters really captured the tempo of the old silent films. They also employed the old-fashioned color tinting techniques, displaying an amazing attention to detail that I have not seen in a long time.

It is so exciting that a silent black and white film is making such waves in this day and age. It has been nominated for more awards than you can count, including at the Cannes Film Festival, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Golden Globes. This film completely revises the modern image of quality film-making. It reminds audiences that the films of our past still have a lot to offer. The Artist, in its own way, legitimizes the films of our past, allowing us not only to view them as part of cinema history, but to also appreciate them in their full value as works of art.

It is my firm conviction that anybody who can see and hear and feel deeply should go see this movie. I think that people who claim not to like black and white movies, and those who admit never to have seen a silent picture, will be able to enjoy this movie many times more than those who already love old films. I think The Artist can open the eyes of modern audiences to the great possibilities yet available in the film-making industry. It may also reveal both how little and how much we viewer need to expect from Hollywood. This film raises the standard to monumentous heights and it gives me a thrill down my spine to think of what I experienced when I saw this movie at the theatre.


6 responses to “The Artist

  1. Kristen says:

    This is a beautifully written and highly convincing review! I think, especially after reading your description of how “It somehow seems unfair to call the movie silent,” I shall have to find a theater that is playing it.

  2. stacey-dacey says:

    Thanks for your review. This sounds like a must-see. I wonder how the general public has reacted to it, since it’s in black and white and just different! Keep up the fine criticisms.

  3. Jenn says:

    As soon as I heard about this film on an Oscar-potential website and viewed the trailer – I wondered to myself: “Has Margaret McElfresh written a review for this film?” I’m so glad you did!

  4. Linda says:

    Thanks, Margaret! I totally agree that this film could be enjoyed far more by non-classic or non-silent film watchers over the hard core fans. I love silent films and watched them for 15 years, but very open to seeing new projects using the style. This one is a brilliant film exploring that change from the silent to talkie era. ‘Singing in the Rain’ (which I love) was a light hearted film, that made fun of the change. This one doesn’t. It really makes one feel what that was really like for stars at that time. I am just glad my mind isn’t so frozen I can’t see the brilliants of what was done here. I didn’t go seeing this film ready to compare it to anything from the past, just wanted to see it, and so glad it finally showed in my town. I loved it! And will be going, again, and taking a non-silent film fan to see it.

  5. Brian says:

    I rarely get out to the movies, but if I do, I’ll certainly consider looking for this one.

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