Where do we start with the modern classic The Artist? The year is 1927. George Valentin is a major movie star in the silent movie era, a time when there is no audible dialogue in cinema, with dialogue present being instead in inter-titles to say what is being said. Another common feature is having a live orchestra doing the sound live at screenings.
Mr Valentin, (along with his dog) is a superstar and all seems well in his world, a world that is soon to slowly crumble as change is afoot in his industry. A young woman and fan, known as Peppy Miller, bumps into him and then decides to become a thespian. George plays a key role in her moving up the career ladder, over a period of time that his own career begins to gradually stumble and sink.
Due to a number of factors such as the 1929 Stock Market Crash and a failure to adapt in an evolving industry, he’s put into a dark and troubled place. I’m not going into the plot much more for those who have yet to see it, but it’s safe to say if you are into studying film history and would like to see a characterful and relatively modern movie that does things a little different style-wise, The Artist is a solid choice.
The film is hugely compelling, moving and at times funny, with the plot starting in 1927 and ending a few years after that. It’s refreshing how The Artist dares to be different, a silent movie (mostly), shot entirely in black and white that explores a challenging point in the history of movie production. It’s never crude or lewd and the acting is enough to carry the film even without audible dialogue in place 99% of the time. The characters feel very three dimensional, believable and well fleshed out, particularly George Valentin, who does win you over and keeps you watching as you see his fortunes change a great deal. The story told is pretty simple but undeniably effective and compelling. Oh, and the ending is very rewarding too.
In terms of success, The Artist made a solid profit at the Box Office and scooped a number of big awards, including the coveted Best Picture Oscar in 2012, the first silent movie to do this since 1929. A phenomenal accolade among many that serves as yet another reason to give this release a go. Sometimes, modern films can maybe feel a tad formulaic and forgettable, but you certainly couldn’t level that claim at The Artist. Some big-name actors are in there too, for anyone interested. Are there any flaws in this movie then? Personally speaking, The Artist is faultless.
You can find The Artist on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray version has the perk of full High Definition picture quality and some bonus features are there too which are certainly very intriguing. I paid a pittance for this film a while back and it’s worth every single penny. 2011’s The Artist is a perfect high calibre hit that moves and compels you. Stellar stuff.
Words by James Gillespie