Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Artist pays homage to Hollywood's silent era



The Artist pays homage to Hollywood's silent era

There is a lot of anticipation surrounding this film in vintage blogdom, and rightly so.  A silent black & white film, set between 1927 and 1932 and filmed in the style of period?  Yes please with knobs on!

This could have been a big risk for French director Michel Hazanavicius but it looks to have paid off handsomely and then some.  Highly acclaimed at its premiere in Cannes, with lead star Jean Dujardin winning the best actor award, it now seems that the Oscars themselves are in this film's sights.  Could this be the first silent film in eighty-three years to win Best Picture?  It would certainly do wonders for it (not to mention the entire genre) if it did.

I've scarcely been able to contain my excitement about The Artist ever since I first heard of it a couple of months ago, but my enthusiasm has always been tempered by how these types of films (which some might call arthouse) have been treated by the large cinema chains and received by moviegoers in general.  When I tried to see film noir homage The Good German back in 2006 I was disheartened to discover that my local cinema was showing it for only one week, once, at midnight.  And that was it.  Then there was the time I had to travel 20 miles to see Flyboys and found myself the only person at the screening!  (OK, perhaps it was fun to have the whole auditorium to myself, but it was also disappointing to see such a low turnout even for the weekday matinée that it was).

So it is with some trepidation that I continue to wonder about the reception this film will receive from wider audiences both here and in the United States.  How will modern filmgoers used to 3D, not to mention colour and dialogue, take to monochrome and inter-titles?  Will it even get a full and proper nationwide release?  With luck and thanks to its success at Cannes, its overwhelmingly positive reviews and possible Oscar presence it may well break into the "mainstream".  We can only hope!

And if it does, it may mark something of a resurgence in popularity for silent movies.  If it can introduce at least one modern viewer to the delights of early cinema, it will have been a success if you ask me.  Plus with the release of Silent Life, a similar film about Rudolph Valentino, also planned for next year, 2012 could well be the year of the silent movie!

2 comments:

  1. My oh my! Thank you so much for this post. I have been looking for the title of this film for a week now, and had no luck till now, Thank you, again.

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  2. I am so excited to see that movie! I really hope a local theatre decides to play it. If not, hopefully I make a day trip and see it somewhere in Toronto :)

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