It’s not every day that a new silent film is released. Yet this season, exactly that has happened. The Artist, a wonderfully engaging black-and-white silent film, has burst onto the scene, and if the audience I watched it with is any indication, this film is on its way to great popularity and commendation.
The Artist tells the story of silent screen star George Valentin, whose career struggles with the emergence of sound and the rise of talkies. Meanwhile, he brushes shoulders with Peppy Miller, Hollywood’s newest rising star. Though the story may seem familiar, it is nevertheless engaging. The film features fantastic performances from stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, both more known in Europe than in North America. Also a standout is Uggie the Dog, who truly delivers a great little performance, driving several of the film’s key scenes.
Under the keen direction of Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist soars. Watching a black-and-white film is already a nostalgic experience, but Hazanavicius’s use of silent film conventions makes The Artist even more special. The film also contains an absolutely delightful score composed by Ludovic Bource. On top of that, Hazanavicius plays clever tricks with sound in some scenes, but I won’t spoil them for you – they received the best reaction from the audience with whom I saw the movie.
Some might wonder what the point of seeing a black-and-white silent film in 2011 is. And some might wonder if there is a point in even making a black-and-white silent film in 2011, when 3D and bombastic sound effects reign supreme. However, consider this: it is said that 80% of communication is nonverbal. When you look at it that way, there isn’t that much of a difference between how a silent film communicates and how a talkie communicates. Watch The Artist – and other silent films – for their visuals and how they show that every human facial expression and action tells a unique story.