Reading the hype about this film, ‘The Artist‘, Marie and I finally managed to watch it and I have to say we were captivated by it throughout. We now take for granted colour and sound in films along with today’s use of advanced computer technology. Although on watching this film I realised we may have actually lost something far more important too. This being our attention to detail. I noticed far more than usual being drawn to the gestures and actions of the actors and the scenery. I can remember far more detail than conventional films of today. You have to use your eyes to a greater extent and so you then become familiar with even the slightest movement.
It was quite a contrast when we have the dream passage and sound was introduced for a brief moment. It was almost strange actually to hear the noise of an object, it became far more striking. Throughout the film the musical score was typical of the roaring 20’s played admirably by the Brussels Philharmonic from a score by Ludovic Bource, they did add ‘Pennies From Heaven‘. I was also unfamiliar with the main French actors’ previous works, so to me they were fresh and an apt choice. The supporting cast did include John Goodman (the film mogul) and Malcolm McDowell both were quite suited to their roles.
The story is basically the transition of the film industry from a silent one to the advent of the “Talkies”. It follows the rise of the young heroine Pepe Miller played by Bérénice Bejo and the decline of Silent film star George Valentin portrayed by Jean Dujardin. He gives her a break into the film industry and she never forgets that. Their fortunes cross over and as his life deteriorates she’s there behind the scenes keeping an eye. I won’t go into too much detail so as not to spoil it for you. It maybe a comedy but this film does parallel a fair few of the silent movie stars who never quite made this crossover. Prime examples of this included Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford who was famously once quoted: “adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus De Milo“.
I really hope this film gets all the plaudits it deserves and gives those pioneering films of this bygone era a new lease of life. Oh before I forget the dog in the film deserves a mention too. This was in complete contrast for us both from the previous early evening’s experience at The Bluecoat in Liverpool. Split into two parts we endured for 40 minutes a film about human body sounds called ‘Quarantine’. Then former Cabaret Voltaire Chris Watson’s playback of ‘El Tren Fantasma‘ redeemed it for me. This was another exercise in using just one of our senses only – this time it was aural.