Daily Archives: February 17, 2012
Was this quiet film better than the “talkies”?
So about 6 weeks after its gerneral relese and countless nominations for awards I finally took an afternoon trip to my local cinema to see the Artist. The critics love it, my friends all love it and to be honest I have not heard a bad thing about it. But here’s the thing. I never fancied it. I like to think of myself as a open minded cinema goer and especially love works that have come from France (such as this film) but the idea felt like flying the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon instead of taking concord. Fun for a bit but is there any point in going backwards. So I went in thinking “why bring back a form of film which has been dead for such a long time and in these times of rehashing anything, why has this not been done before”. But that is no way to head into a film so I cleared my mind and sat down to watch this critically acclaimed jont around 30’s Hollywoodland.
Basically the story itself is one you have seen a thousand times before not only in films but in TV shows every week. Its essentially the story of the main character George Valentin’s fall from mega star of silent film to his talents becoming obsolete due to the introduction of talking films and his reluctance to change to the new media. Subsequently he tries to fund his own silent film, losses all his money and has a full on break down. At the same time Peppy Miller, a nobody at the start of the film, works her way up to be the biggest star of the “talkies”. The slight twist being that her fake mole was first suggested by George at the start of her career (think of the whole creating your down fall irony type of thing). The film charts the years where silent film dies and Peppy grows to stardom while George plummets as their lives collide from time to time. Also John Goodman plays the studio boss throughout the flick and is a nice familiar face in a cast of new meat to me.
Ok same deal as usual. I am now going to look at some of the themes and my opinions of the film so there maybe a few spoilers beyond this point. Although im pretty sure I am the only person on the planet that hadent seen the film before today.
First off I want to look at the theme of the death of silent film that runs throughout and sees Georges fall from grace. Obviously it is one of the quirks of the film that it looks at the history of the transition between silent movies and talking film but as The Artist is a silent film so you hear non of this new media. I makes the film feel as if it is being told from the perspective of the silent film or someone who is stuck in their ways and will not accept the new technology. Which fits well with Georges character and gives the film a feel of him being nostalgic and down on his luck rather than a loser or foolish . But this is as good as the depth to characters gets for me.
This is where I start to find small faults in the film. The main one for me was character development. The fact that this was a film without dialogue made it really hard to get to know the characters. I felt removed from them, and as this was a film about emotions, I personally found it hard to feel for the characters. Don’t miss quote me in saying that the acting was poor. Far from it, I though it was outstanding, but even with these great performances I could not connect with either George or Peppy. Also there is a lot of reliance on George dog to show what was going on. It is easier to show threat if there is a dog barking (even silently) or even Georges embarrassment if the dog is mimicking him. I one way I see this as clever to make it easier for the audience but with a film which is taking so many awards, I would have wanted the characters to be deeper than I felt they were.
All in all I feel this is maybe not a great film but a great cinema experience. I do not think that I will want to see The Artist again but I am happy I went to see it. It is different and it works but I feel the film would have been much better with dialogue to develop the characters since the story was so predictable. I feel with dialogue the romance would have been deeper between the two main characters and history of silent film, which was the umbrella of the film, could have played a bigger role, which it probably deserved as that has not been in mainstream cinema for a long time. Its a film worth seeing but I think it could have been improved by the inclusion of dialogue. Funny that the lack of this is the one thing that makes the film more famous that anything else.
I know this will not be a popular review so add a comment if you agree or disagree with anything.
Till next time