The Artist (2011)

Speaking of silent films…

What’s that? You couldn’t hear me? Well, that’s probably because you’re reading this, not because it was a silent film.

Anyway, over eighty years after the first silent Best Picture, The Artist took the prize. I remember the buzz when it came out – in fact, I even saw it in the theater, something I can mostly only say about movies that contain Harry Potter or Wolverine. (Harry Potter and the Adamantium Claws: best crossover ever?)

What’s really cool about The Artist is that it’s as much a meta-picture as anything, a celebration of and sort of winking look at the early film industry. I’m not sure why this intrigued me so much considering how little I know about the film industry (of any era). Having now seen (one, at least) silent film, and understanding a bit more of what that genre was like, I can appreciate a little better that transition. It seems so long ago, and yet, here we are in an era of so much change. Which of the new technologies in entertainment – 3D, 4D, whatever – will stand 80 years from now, and how will our current batch of movies look to those future people? What must it be like to be on the losing end of change, left behind as a dinosaur in a world of mammals?

This is maybe the first movie I’ve watched in this project (which I’ve now re-watched for at least the third time) that’s really made me think about what it means to be a “Best Picture.” The Artist is truly different from any other movie I’ve seen, even as it follows the trends and tropes of everything that’s come before it. Without the distraction of dialogue, the visuals are given a greater weight, narratively and emotionally. Water pooled on a table, fire, so many reflections. I enjoy the part where George and Peppy play out take after take of their first scene together, each redo another step towards them falling in love. But it’s another scene that really sticks with me: Peppy finds herself alone in George’s dressing room, puts her arm through his jacket sleeve, hanging on a rack at person-level, and relives the dance with her own hand substituting for his on her hip.

If that’s not enough, there’s an adorable dog who plays the role of mascot, comic relief, savior. If they could make a movie with an entire cast of dogs (and maybe a few baby goats), I would be all over that.

Perhaps a Best Picture is one that can change something inside of you, make you feel love where once beat a cold, hardened heart. I don’t consider myself a romantic, and yet, here I am, gushing over a romance film. There’s hope for all of us.

Theme:  Silent Film

First Time Watching?  Nope, saw it in the theater.

Loved it/Liked it/Hated it:  With pleasure.



One response

  1. Pingback: Meta-post: The Ranking | Year of the Oscar

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