News / USA

Silent Movie 'The Artist' Speaks of Romance

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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid