Posts Tagged ‘George Valentin’

The Artist

A Silent Movie That Makes a Big Noise

Berenice Bejo

Movie goers got a huge surprise in 2011 when ‘The Artist’ hit the movie theaters. This movie did raise quite a few eyebrows because many people who went to see it had no idea that it was a silent film, but it did very well at the box office nevertheless. Where this movie scores very high is in terms of critical acclaim. This unusual movie, the winner of 3 Golden Globes, has been nominated for 12 Baftas and is also expected to make quite a killing at the Oscars.

What makes ‘The Artist’ very successful is the fact that it is basically a very simple movie. A beautiful tribute to the Hollywood’s silent era, this black-and-white film is set in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Hollywood. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, this movie follows the story of silent movie star George Valentin, played by French actor Jean Dujardin who is preoccupied with the impending death of the silent movie era which provides him with his livelihood. Around the same time he meets a young dancer Peppy Miller, played by Berenice Bejo, who is working to get her big break in show business. Their love story is what gives this movie its appeal.

Made with a budget of around $12,000,000, this movie has been a surprise hit because of its universal appeal. At the beginning of the movie, George Valentin is at the top of his game as a leading silent movie star. He is handsome and self-absorbed, much in the manner of a Hollywood God. He meets Peppy, a lively young dancer who is trying to make her way in the industry. The movie is about their improbable love affair that carries on in spite of changed circumstances that see Valentin’s career on the descendent whereas Peppy achieves the success that she is striving for. Valentin is simply not able to make the switch to talkies having been doing the same thing over and over again in his silent movies even though a studio boss often warns him to prepare for change.

Hazanavicius, who has written this movie in addition to directing it, has paid homage to many classic black-and-white films in this production. There are scenes in this film that hark back to Singin’ in the Rain, Citizen Kane and even Vertigo. Dujardin and Bejo do a wonderful job in this film and so does John Goodman who essays the role off the studio boss.
It is too much to say that ‘The Artist’ will change the way in which movies are made and that more silent films will be produced. This is definitely a one-off movie of this genre. It is not even a particularly great movie if only because Hazanavicius seems to have looked to ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘A Star is Born’ for inspiration. However, it is a very enjoyable film to watch because of the superlative acting and directing. With a few nominations under its belt, this little movie is all set to make quite a bit of noise at the Oscars.