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The Artist: The Best Silent Movie Experience for the 21st Century
If you missed the "silent" era of movies, and most reading this have, this is a MUST see movie. Like most, the silent era never really attracted me, I mean, a movie with NO sound only musical accompaniment seemed boring, let alone, in black and white! So, I really read up on this movie slated for some Oscars in 2012 and tried to imagine why it has always got 4 stars from movie reviewers. There are MANY teens or adults who even think a movie in black and white is no good (my daughter is one) and refuse to even watch them. Funny, yet sad.
The Artist is a French\American venture, as its two main characters are French actors, Jean Dujardin who plays George Valentin and Ms. Berenice Bejo who plays Peppy Miller. They are essentially main players that occupy the screen. Both are in their mid to late 30's. The logline for the movie is a rising young star(Peppy) ascends as George (a silent movie star) descends as sound appears in the late 20's (which is historically correct). Many famous silent stars did not make the transition to talkies, like Rudolph Valentino. It was new replacing old, yet Peppy and George fell in love upon their first meeting but it would be years before it became tangible. George hits rock bottom, no money and saved from committing suicide by Peppy, who is rich and famous (exactly reverse when the movie began).
The other STAR of the movie is Uggy, the simply most adorable Jack Russel dog and companion to George throughout the movie. The dog is sooo damn cute and steals any scene it is in.
The movie is spot on in just about all facets of the time period. It is perfect. Even the look and how it was filmed in a format used back then makes the package complete. There was only one scene where I got lost as to what was being conveyed because there was a lot of talking, yet no sound or dialog cards. The music score is SO important to a silent film to stress the emotions and the score for this film is perfect and does its job well.
Watching a silent film does require some brain power from the viewer. Since there is only music, visual scenes with people talking but no sound and only occasional dialog cards stressing key points, your observing concentration is mandatory. It actually is refreshing. You have to watch the facial expressions and actions.
There are a few scenes where there IS sound and it is quite startling to the viewer. George has a dream sequence where sound is everywhere and yet nothing comes out of his mouth. Then, at the end, when George and Peppy do a fantastic tap dance scene (ala Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds) while filming a talkie. It is now you realize that for this movie, the actor playing George could not had made this as a talkie-he speaks a few words in English with a heavy French accent. Berenice who plays Peppy, does speak English well and doing a talkie is NOT an issue.
As I watched the film, emotions were invoked from me at various scenes. So the film does work as well as any talkie. One does not imagine anything. Dujardin, who plays George, reminded me of Gene Kelly so much as he was in Singing in the Rain. Others declare a Douglas Fairbanks. Berenice Bejo reminded me of a young Natalie Wood with those eyes and smile. Together, they reminded me of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in Singing in the Rain. Lastly, Uggy reminded me of Lola, our own Jack Russel aka Star dog, except our star dog has long hair. Both are so photogenic.
Anyone who appreciates films and film history will love it. Those who are curious what a silent movie experience was like, must see it and will be surprised. I know, I definitely was!