Don’t laugh, George. That’s the future.
– Film producer Al Zimmer to silent film star George Valentin on how the talkies will soon eclipse silent movies, in The Artist
In the autumn of my life, my mind zig-zags into blunderland more often than I’d like.
I watch countless insufferable Indian movies but sometimes bizarrely skip the ones that have given me good vibes.
For instance, when I went to see the South Korean film Yellow Sea they showed the preview of the French production The Artist.
I had a nice feeling about the preview and was sure the movie would do well.
The few times yours truly had such hunches (as with Slumdog Millionaire and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Winter’s Bone), they were proved right.
Yet I skipped The Artist when it released in theatres. Don’t ask why, for I know not myself.
And when The Artist went on to win five Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony, I made a quick call to my shrink to ask her what’s wrong with moi!
So when the DVD of The Artist landed at Red Box kiosks yesterday in the U.S. I jumped out of bed early to ensure that I snagged a copy.
Artist – Triumph of Imagination
In an age when fancy computer effects and female skin-show are de rigueur for 90% of movies, The Artist daringly strikes out with a Black and White film.
And that too a Silent movie.
Wow, that must require remarkable courage, a quality absent in Indian producers who are more given to the relentless pursuit of thievery, the tawdry and the downright trashy in their movies.
Written and directed by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist is an extraordinary triumph of cinematic imagination.
In the era of Avatar and Avengers, that a director/writer can conjure up such a delightful entertainer without any of the fancy technology gimmicks boggles the mind.
In the movie, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo play the lead roles of two actors George Valentin and Peppy Miller respectively.
Power of Sound
The Artist starts off in 1927, when silent movies were still riding high.
George Valentin is a big star in the twilight of the silent era while Peppy Miller joins movies at the dawn of the talkies.
Before long, the movies within the movie transition into the talkies period, all the while tracking the fortunes of our two movie stars George and Peppy.
At the moment when the old is giving way to the new in the world of movies, the paths of George and Peppy cross.
You see a spark in their first meeting and George shows some kindness to the unknown Peppy, putting her on the path to stardom.
Soon, the talkies take over the movies and the silent films gets the cold shoulder from the public.
A stubborn, miscalculating George is blind to the power of talkies, the pull of sound on the audience.
But Peppy is smarter in recognizing the change.
As George’s fortune ebbs, Peppy’s soars but she never forgets the silent co-star in her first movie.
Artist – Borrow the DVD
Jean Dujardin turns in a remarkable performance as George Valentin.
The good days, the dog days and the terrible days, Dujardin handles everything director Hazanavicius throw at him with great aplomb.
Bérénice Bejo as Peppey Miller is alright but can’t hold a candle to Jean Dujardin in the acting department.
The magnificent soundtrack adds to the allure of The Artist.
Although I’m not partial to quadrupeds of any kind, the dog was great in The Artist.
In an age of $200 million and $300 million, The Artist proves that great artistes can make movie marvels on a relatively shoestring budget of just $15 million.
Oh, I loved the dance and music at the end so much that I’ve been listening to the “Peppy and George” soundtrack nonstop on the free Spotify service.
SearchIndia.com recommends The Artist to all lovers of good cinema. You can get the DVD at Netflix or Red Box in the U.S. If you’re too cheap to spend $1.22 on The Artist at Red Box, look for the film at your local library.