ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"The Artist" Shines As A Silent Film Tribute

Updated on January 31, 2012

In this contemporary age of cinema full of remakes and sequels, it’s refreshing that a special film comes along to remind us of the joy we experience by going to the movies. The French-based film “The Artist” is an outstanding, entertaining, and remarkably satisfying tribute to Hollywood’s silent era of film. The film is not only homage to that bygone era but it is full on black & white silent film that modern audiences are not accustomed to, especially in this climate of bloated 3-D effects.

Beginning in 1927, silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a box-office star. He can evoke laughter, suspense, and melodrama from the audience without uttering a word. After the world premier of Valentin’s latest action drama “A Russian Affair,” he steps outside to his adoring fans, signing autographs and getting his picture taken by the press. A particular fan named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) drops her purse and accidentally bumps into Valentin, whereby he graciously poses with her as she lands a kiss on his cheek. The press plasters the photo on the front page of Variety and Miller has become the unknown “it-girl” around Hollywood. While she revels in this temporary notoriety, Miller is actually an aspiring actress, auditioning to be an extra in any movie that will hire her. Valentin on the other hand returns to his mansion home to his unloving wife (Penelope Ann Miller) and his frequent on-screen canine companion Jack (Uggie, a Jack Russell Terrier). The following day, Miller captures the attention of a casting director to appear as a backup dancer in Valentin’s next film. Seen dancing backstage, Valentin is instantly impressed and convinces Kinograph Studios producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman) to hire her for a part. The two actors have a brief scene together which happens to have multiple takes as the two end up cracking up with one another while filming. By the end of production, the two move on to separate career paths.

The year 1927 saw the release of “The Jazz Singer,” a revolutionary film that introduced sound to motion pictures, then dubbed “talkies.” Soon, audiences were demanding sound in their films and silent films began a steady decline. By 1929, Valentin was still churning out silent films for Kinograph Studios until he learned they were abandoning silent film productions in favor of focusing solely on talkies. Dismissing it as a fad and unwilling to adapt to the new technology, Valentin quits the studio with the intention of making his own silent film production. He stakes his personal wealth to fund the production, which goes over-long and over budget. All the while, Peppy Miller gradually climbs the Hollywood ladder in the early days of talkies, going from back-up dancer to small roles, to eventually becoming the star in big productions and her face plastered on movie magazines. Upon the completion of Valentin’s passion project in October of 1929, he learns that it will be opening on the same day as Miller’s highly anticipated film. Days later, the great Stock Market Crash that would cripple the country has also turned Valentin broke and the face of an obsolete medium.

While Miller is enjoying success, Valentin spends his days in the bars and his tiny apartment, separated from his wife but still with Jack the dog and his loyal valet Clifton (James Cromwell). Valentin and Miller cross paths at a Hollywood restaurant while the press is interviewing Miller as Valentin eavesdrops. Miller goes on about her embrace of talkies and the joys of being in the limelight until Valentin confronts her and reminds her that she wouldn’t be where she is without him. Valentin undergoes severe depression, auctioning off all of his film memorabilia just to pay for the next whiskey bottle. Valentin hits rock bottom by drunkenly setting fire to the film reels that made him famous. As he’s rescued from the fire from his home, he clutches the one thing that reminded him of happiness: the film reel that was shot with him and Miller’s only screen appearance together. Miller on the other hand still holds her encounter with Valentin in her heart and strives to revive his career in the new era of film.

French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius had wanted to direct a silent film for years since many of his influences started out in silent film. It wasn’t until the financial success with his 2006 spy film “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies” that he gained support from film producers. Believing silent melodramas to be the most appealing, he crafted a story about the fall from grace of a Hollywood star and cast previous collaborator Dujardin to portray the charming Valentin as well as his actress wife Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller. While the film features many recognizable American actors, the two unfamiliar French leads are absolutely charming. Dujardin’s presence is outstanding as if he’s a true silent film star transported through time to the modern era. Bejo is cute as a button as the likable Peppy Miller. Supporting actors like Goodman, Cromwell, and even Uggie the dog add to the appeal of vintage Hollywood.

Hazanavicius’s dedication to the silent film era is both sweet and authentic. The film was shot 1.33:1 screen ratio commonly used in the silent film era in color but corrected to black & white in postproduction. Presented without too many inter-titles and its soundtrack accompanied by the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, “The Artist” is an authentic tribute to the silent film era.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Nomascus concolor profile image

      Nomascus concolor 

      6 years ago from A Country called Earth

      Definitely deserves the Oscars - really touching and refreshing movie!

    • tschaunerb profile image


      6 years ago from Medicine Hat

      This movie sure snuck up under the radar.I am usually fairly "in the know" in regards to upcoming films, how this one slipped by me I don't know. Eager to see it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)