THE ARTIST - 2011 – movie - A Classic Review - written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius – the players are George (Jean Dujardin), Peppy (Berenice Bejo), Al (John Goodman), Clifton (James Cromwell), Doris (Penelope Ann Miller).
This film was nominated for 10 Oscars and received 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor – Jean Dujardin. If silent films ever make a come back, John
Goodman, who played the part of the domineering, but frustrated producer, has a lock on stardom. What a terrific performance!
The European pair, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo are a perfect, charming duo. Dujardin, with his expressive face, seemed
to be channeling the era before “pictures got small”. And… then there’s the dog. If there’s even echo of a song in your heart yur gonna luv this one.
The film was shot in the 1:33 ratio of that era. In my opinion that format is still the fastest and easiest format to compose in and the least trouble for the camera crew… and need I say, with all that wide screen stuff… your attention is really on only a small portion of all that wasted space.
Although the release is in black and white, it was shot in color, with exquisite care in lightening by Guillaume Schiffman. They ran the film through the camera at 22 frames per second to give it a slightly jerky look of the era. Bejo and Dujardin took 5 months of tap dancing lessons to prepare for the ending sequence, which they did in 15 takes.
The story line has been used dozens of times, and is not limited the movie business; a young star rises as her older mentor begins the painful slide down. This movie should have been formally dedicated to the memories of “A Star Is Born” with James Mason and Judy Garland…. or “Sunset Boulevard” with Gloria Swanson and William Holden.
It took me a little while to fully understand that I was going to be watching a “silent” movie, but that confusion only lasted a moment. To quote Gloria Swanson, “We didn’t need dialog, we had faces”.
The combination of black and white and the silent dialogue gives you the feeling that you could be transported back in time. I’m sitting here, waiting for the line, “I’m ready for my close up Mr. Demille”. We even had Erich von Stroheim reincarnated in James Cromwell’s role as the devoted butler.
Watch it if you can… miss it at your peril.