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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid