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Staff Picks Category: Silent film

The Artist []



I had heard great things about Michel Hazanavicius’ award winning silent film The Artist. How could I not have? The film won five Oscars, three Golden Globes, and a host of other awards and critical praise. And yet, I was nervous about seeing the film. A silent film made in 2011? Was it just a gimmick? Just a superficial imitation of an earlier error?

There is no doubt that the film is intended as an homage to older films. The film is presented in black and white and everything from the acting, to the intertitles, the score, and even the aspect ratio of the screen is designed to resemble the films of the silent era. And yet, the film feels quite modern, in part, because of the self-awareness it brings to its imitation, but also because the film looks at Hollywood in the late twenties in a manner which could only be done in hindsight. In many ways The Artist has more in common with Singing in the Rain, another great film about Hollywood’s transition to talkies, than it does with any silent film.

And, much as with Singing in the Rain, you don’t actually have to be familiar with films of the silent era to appreciate The Artist. The film is well made, the acting is great, the period costumes are a joy. The characters are larger than life, but sympathetic and likable. They are caricatures, but this is so well done as to be an asset.

I really enjoyed The Artist. It’s funny, stylish, and clever. Recommended for film lovers or anyone looking for something a little different.

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