What if the whole world were black and white? Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could turn off the clamor of your daily routine?
Now you can. The Artist is a silent film released in January 2012, starring French actors Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. The film won five Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Score, Best Director, and Best Costume Design). It was the second silent film to receive such acclaim since the beginning of the awards ceremony in 1929.
The film is a refreshing return to the glory and simplicity of old Hollywood. Though a new film, it has all the authenticity of the silent movies popular in the 1920s. The screen is reduced to a square instead of the usual rectangle; the credits are shown at the opening; and, of course, the black-and-white cinematography transports viewers back to the cinema of the Roaring 20s.
The story follows an actor’s experience during the transition from silent movies of the early 20th century to the fresh appeal of the “talkies,” which we now refer to just as “movies.”
George Valentin (Dujardin) is a silent movie star shunted aside as new talent arises in the form of dancer and actress Peppy Miller (Bejo). Valentin loses his job and attempts to make movies of his own. He fails, however, and wallows in misery while Miller succeeds with the help of her voice, a phenomenon new to cinema goers back then. Romance kindles between the two, and it is a struggle between the old and the new as Valentin comes to terms with the changing of times.
A movie about making movies, The Artist has many unexpected surprises and instances of humor that make it enjoyable for all audiences. The film is a wonderful return to the classics of old Hollywood and an amazing contrast to the movies of today.