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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs