Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Artist.

I just finished watching The Artist for the second time since the DVD released on Tuesday....

I love this movie.

In all honesty, I think I loved the movie before I even saw it. How could I not? A modern silent, black-and-white film that takes place in the late 20s during the transition from silent films to talkies? It was pretty much guaranteed to be one of my favorites.

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe with George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin), as the movie is mostly about him. He is an awesome mixture of the coolest early Hollywood actors you can imagine, with a heavy dose of Gene Kelly. George reminds me so much of him at the beginning {and I adore Gene Kelly. I never wrote that Kelly vs. Astaire post I was planning once. Hm}.

I'm not a dog person, but the dog? The cutest and most talented movie dog since Asta of the Thin Man series. :) But in the scene when he/she plays Lassie, all I could think was, Go faster, little dog! Burning film = deadly fumes! Speed it up!

And then there's Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). She's pretty and charming- a ridiculously likable character who made me smile in every scene she's in.

The film is gorgeous. The sets and locations (including Mary Pickford's mansion) are perfect and authentic. The costumes and everything...I think this movie made me fall in love with the 1920s again. It's had me listening to jazzy 20s music and wishing that I could pull off a cute dropped-waist flapper style dress (unfortunately impossible with my shape). I'll admit I even tried to picture myself with one of those short, curly bobs that looks so lovely with a cloche hat (don't worry- I could never bring myself to do it. :).

I loved the use of sound in two scenes and the lack of it in the rest of the film. I haven't seen many silent films, and it always surprises me how the experience of watching one is so unlike and yet similar to watching a talkie. And the music in this movie? Oh my goodness...I've never heard anything like it before. It varies from so catchy and upbeat (this makes me smile every time) to moody and dark, as does the film itself. Some parts of the movie are unapologetically fun and happy, and other parts are intense and sad. But there's unexpected humor right amongst the darker parts. Usually I'm not too crazy about that kind of thing and find it jarring and distracting, but somehow it works here.

{You might have heard the big fuss about a piece of music from Hitchcock's film Vertigo being used in The Artist. It was completely legal and given proper credit, but some people freaked out about it (including Kim Novak, who was in Vertigo). When I watched the film for the first time, I had honestly forgotten about it and didn't notice it at all. Afterward I remembered, but I had to look it up to even find out what scene the song was used in. :) I thought it fit in well with the scene. P.S. Vertigo is one of my least favorite Hitchcock films. Jimmy Stewart couldn't even save it for me.}

I've always been interested in this transitional time for films- I even did a speech about it for my public speaking class last year. But I don't think it's ever hit me how it might have felt for the silent film actors and actresses who couldn't make it in talkies. To be at the top in your career and then, all of a sudden, the whole industry changes and you're not wanted or needed anymore. That had to be tough. And The Artist shows that by making it personal and following George Valentin's downward spiral.

Finally, I love that this movie is such a love letter to classic film: to silent films and talkies and the golden age of Hollywood. There were so many little tributes to classic movies (Citizen Kane, Singin' in the Rain, etc.). Nowadays, I don't think many people realize the genius of old movies { younger brother} or know anything about the history of film. So I'm glad classic Hollywood is finally getting some of the attention it deserves.

{P.S. The film is rated PG-13, for three little things. I've seen PG movies with much more offensive issues, so the rating baffles me a bit (but then, our ratings system always does). Thing #1: an obscene hand gesture (that is quickly covered up). Thing #2: one mild profanity written out in a dialogue card thing (what are they really called?). Thing #3: a moment of despair for one of the characters that isn't violent but is disturbing. One other tiny little issue I had: I felt like the role of George's wife was unnecessary. Mostly because movies should not introduce two characters early on who you are obviously going to root for when one of them is married. Even if the marriage is falling apart and the wife will conveniently exit soon. :) That's all.}

So. I love this movie. Did I mention that already? Did I also mention that Jean Dujardin has perfected the Gene Kelly smile (proof: this vs. this)? If you're a classic movie fan, I think you'll love it, too.

If you're not a classic movie fan, I can't promise that you'll get into it. But then, I can't even comprehend that. :)

Have you seen The Artist? What did you think?
Until next time,


  1. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard some great things about it! I hope to see it soon :)

  2. This looks really good and I want to watch it now!

  3. YAY! I knew you'd love this! Isn't Valentin's smile at the end of the film just to die for?! :)

  4. I thought this was a charming movie.


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