News / USA

    Silent Movie 'The Artist' Speaks of Romance

    Black-and-white homage to silent films of 1920's is generating Oscar buzz

    Penelope Poulou

    Hollywood's finest offerings often appear during the holiday season. This year, one of them is Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist," a black-and-white homage to the silent films of the 1920s.

    "The Artist," a silent film itself, is a romantic story that reflects the sensibilities of that era. It has garnered praise from critics and audiences and is considered a frontrunner for an Oscar.

    George Valentin, a 1920s Hollywood star, is riding high in silent films. He and his sidekick, a little dog, have charmed America.

    His fans cluster around to get a glimpse of him - among them, Peppy Miller, a young extra, who rubs shoulders with him at a public event.

    The publicity gets Peppy a big break - a job as a dancer in one of Valentin's films. But it's the talkies that make Peppy famous. Unfortunately, the new technology brings George Valentin, who discovered her, a reversal of fortune. Unable to find his own voice, Valentin fades into the background. His fans abandon him and so does his wife.

    French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius says "The Artist" is a love story and moral tale about fame and its pitfalls. But, most importantly, it's a story that reflects the legendary Hollywood of the 1920s and 30s.

    "I really tried to find the American spirit of the story because the story takes place here in Hollywood," he says, "and I really wanted to respect the way to shoot it but also the way to think it. How the characters are, what they can do. There is no nudity, there is no violence."  
    The filmmaker creates an uplifting tale about love, loyalty and perseverance. George Valentin's story, as portrayed by French actor Jean Dujardin, is intertwined with the heroine’s, Peppy Miller, played by Berenice Bejo.

    Miller’s star-power rises as Valentin’s fades. Dujardin offers a nuanced performance as a self-centered but fundamentally honorable Valentin, whose pride prevents him from accepting help. Dujardin's expressive interpretation of the silent film star is as enchanting during Valentin's rise as it is heart-breaking during his fall.

    Dujardin says old Hollywood actors inspired his performance. "Douglas Fairbanks. I watched a lot of Douglas Fairbanks movies. Gene Kelly for his smile, his energy, Vittorio Gassman for his physicality, Clarke Gable for his mustache."

    Actress Berenice Bejo, the real-life wife of director Michel Hazanavicius, shines as the effervescent, charming Peppy Miller. The starlet is in love with Valentin and it pains her to see him falter. She is determined to get him back on his feet, and eventually, saves his life.

    During the shooting in Los Angeles, Bejo transformed herself into a 1930s Hollywood star.

    "It gave an authenticity to be where the movie takes place," Bejo says. "Driving down the Hollywood hills and going to the studios, passing the gate as Peppy is doing in the movie, couldn't be more perfect than that."  

    "The Artist" received six Golden Globe nominations and is expected to be nominated for an Oscar. Ironically, the film did not initially receive support from producers and investors, who, according to Hazanavicius, felt skittish about investing in a silent film in the 21st century.

    The film moves effortlessly. Dujardin’s grace and infectious smile speak a thousand words without a sound. “The Artist” revives the iconic silent film as an intricate and eloquent form of dramatic art. Who needs dialogue and sultry scenes when all is said in a glance?

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora