Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Artist (2011): Black and White, Silent and Charming

The Artist screenshot
To make a black and white film for the broad audience in the 21st century requires courage. To make a silent movie for the average moviegoer in 2011 calls for more than just boldness. To do it you have to be imaginative and inventive with a spice of craziness. Apparently, The Artist's director Michel Hazanavicius does not have any deficiency of these and he deserves respect for his risky initiative to create this movie. But what makes the story really charming is the fact his effort has proven to be a quite successful film enchanting the audiences all over the world and wining several of the most important Academy Awards in 2012.

The Artist does not sport an original plot or even an original score despite its win in the category of Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures. Nevertheless the plot is decent and the music is actually very cool and appropriate for the movie. You will most probably even recall some of the melodies for at least a few days after watching the film. The rest of The Artist's five Oscars are well deserved and the movie's win in the category of Best Motion Picture of the Year is not surprising although there will be always people arguing which the most worthy film has been. Of course, it's a matter of personal preference but we can safely say The Artist is one of the better and amongst the most notable movies of the previous year.

With this almost entirely silent black and white picture director Michel Hazanavicius proves to be a good moviemaker and unconventional entertainer. He has successfully managed to put in the movie simple but effective details to make his task of conquering the public easier. One example could be the presence of a cute dog and his owner's interaction with him. Another praise we own Michel Hazanavicius is for his skilful utilization of the otherwise limited in sound or color silent or black and white characteristics of the movie. For example, the story of The Artist (about a silent era movie star's struggle with the rise of talking pictures) might not be very original but it is perfect for using silence as a creative device in the film.

Of course, the accessibility of an old fashioned movie to the general 21st century audience does not come only from the clever use of antiquated technologies. The advancement of filmmaking furthers not only talking and color movies but also their ancient relatives. What I mean is you won't see here a black and white picture quality on the level of the films made in the dawn of cinema. The same is valid for The Artist's audio quality. Being a 2011 movie provides for a high-grade picture and sound thus bringing the film far closer to the contemporary audience compared to the early 20th century movies, which are definitely not for everybody.

The cast of The Artist is something we should not miss mentioning. The lead actor Jean Dujardin has not won his Best Actor Academy Award for nothing. He is funny, colorful and he doesn't need to speak in order to fascinate you. His partner Bérénice Bejo (receiving "just" a nomination for Best Supporting Actress Oscar) is captivating even more than Dujardin. She is convincing simultaneously as an admirer and opposition of Jean Dujardin's character. John Goodman and James Cromwell have also solid although not long screen appearances in quite suitable roles for themselves.

To be objective, the movie has some flaws. There are a few moments that are a bit boring but nothing too extensive to drive you away from the film. And as already noticed the story lacks originality but this is well compensated with its incorporation into the movie's realization. It's not the plot that makes The Artist easily recommendable for everybody. It's the overall experience you get by watching a well-crafted "old" film in a 2012 movie theater. Do not expect a tribute to the silent era black and white films cause you may be disappointed at the end. Just go and enjoy The Artist for what it has to offer on the big screen.


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