“The Artist” delves into the value of silence and what can be lost in the noise of the crowd. It also hearkens back to when going to the movies was a tradition and a cultural commodity. Nowadays people simply wait to rent a movie and pass on visiting the theater.
“The Artist,” the first film of the Tournées Festival, was shown Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in Patterson Room 103. The movie came out in 2011 and won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
“The Artist” is set in the late 1920s as the era of silent films comes to a close. Jean Dujardin, one of France’s biggest stars, plays George Valentin. Valentin is a charming silent film actor who is faced with the threat of the talkies making him obsolete.
Valentin encounters a young, vivacious woman named Peppy Miller who he helps work her way up in the industry, and she eventually becomes the fresh new face of the talking movies. Valentine falls into obscurity and depression as he struggles with the rise of the talkies.
The film itself is black-and-white and silent, but, instead of detracting from the story, it adds to it. Because the movie uses both of these filming styles, the viewers can appreciate the type of acting required in the silent film era. Actors were dependent on facial expression and body language to express what they were feeling.
Though a silent film, the soundtrack is crucial to conveying the emotion and mood of certain scenes. It is filled with comedy, romance and drama. The musical score helps inform the audience what to be feeling subconsciously.
It deals with themes such as “is the new necessarily better” and how the young tend to take for granted the fact that the way was made for them by their predecessors.
The costumes used give off a realistic art deco vibe and transport the viewers back to the time of flappers and sharply dressed men with fedora hats.
Dujardin creates such a charismatic persona in Valentine that the audience is immediately attached to him and is sympathetic as hard times fall upon him, his loyal valet, Clifton and his adorable Jack Russell terrier.
Valentin is a dapper action hero star who is delightful on set and off.
The old movie star thinks of sound as a fad and feels that silent movies are true art, to the point where he finances his own movie to compete against Peppy’s talking film.
During one part of the movie Valentin and Peppy film four takes together where they are waltzing. It becomes obvious that they are falling harder for each other with each take and the chemistry that is there is one of the reasons why the film is so great. Even without speaking the viewer can see the love that the two share just by pure facial expression.
This movie is a crowd pleaser due to the fact that even in the lowest moments of Valentin’s life there are still humorous moments that keep the crowd involved. Also the actor is so lovable the audience will remained glued to their seats in hopes that things will turn around for him.
The few points in the movie where sound is used, it is from Valentin’s nightmares and fears. Sound assaults his ears until the end of the movie where Peppy is able to come up with an idea that combines his superb dancing skills with the new art of sound.
The fact that Valentin and his medium are incorporated with the new age of filming shows how sometimes beautiful things from the past can still be valuable in the now.
Director Michel Hazanavicius achieves this proving his point by telling the very story in a silent black-and-white film, which most people feels is obsolete and reserved for Turner Classics.
The next movie for the French film festival is “A Cat in Paris” on Thursday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m.