by Victoria H

Silence is not often the word that comes to mind when you think of films and the cinema. It’s been over eighty years since silent films dominated Hollywood. So four years ago when The Artist was released, many did not quite understand why this old method was reappearing. No one could quite have predicted the success of The Artist with its five Academy Awards wins including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture.  The film is a French silent film, shot in black and white with two unknown leads…films like this do not usually have mass appeal. Yet The Artist prevailed.

The Artist shows that monochrome, silence, and story can have just as much an effect on audiences as special effects, and superstars. Too often in today’s films, the reliance is on the name stars to draw the audience rather than the quality of the film itself. This is not the case with The Artist. The two main leads for this film were French actors who were unknowns to the English market. This allowed for the story and character of the film itself to be the draw. Silence is art, and this is what was The Artist reminds us. Not every moment needs to be filled with a action, dialogue, or soundtrack. In the silence you can see the true artists work.

What makes this film loveable to so many is the homage it is to films past. The Artist celebrates all that films used to be, it embodies that Old Hollywood feel. Yet the film doesn’t lose itself in the films it is trying to celebrate. The story itself charms the audience, and the silent film aspect is used to enrich the story. They go together rather than one being used to justify the other. In this way The Artist is able to celebrate the films of the past, while still being its own original film. It references without copying.

With so many cineliteracy nods, you cannot help but yearn for Old Hollywood and its timeless magic. You finish this film wanting to revisit so many old favourites. The Artist acts as a eulogy for films past, yet it does not lament their loss. Rather this film celebrates and reminds us of their existence. As technology changes the way we film and watch movies, The Artist reminds us that there are things from the past worth keeping.

The Artist is a love letter to films past. It reminds us of the value that those films had, and the lessons that should not be forgotten. The magic of the cinema is timeless and this is exactly what The Artist shows us.

And for those of you who happen to be in London, The Artist is returning to the big screen with live music at the Classic Cinema Club. Check out usheru for your discounted tickets!

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