January 29th, 2012


"The Artist"

Just been to see the new silent film The Artist and found it unique and very witty. From the opening credits, which use the same typeface and format as the old 20s and 30s films, you're drawn into the world of the silent film. After a few minutes you forget it's in black and white, and when they do use real sound it's startling and discordant after the music of the soundtrack which has been doing so much to tell the story.

There are lots of call-outs to old films, the star "George Valentin, played by Jean Dujardin, is a combination of John Gilbert, Rudolf Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks. You get a Keystone Kops moment, a bit of swash-buckling, an actor disappearing into quicksand, a call-out to the first sound scenes in "Singing in the Rain" with the fixed microphones, and a very clever dog, like the terrier in the 'Thin Man' films. There was also a cheerful dig at the historical inaccuracy of the old films, where after a sword fight with costumes reminiscent of the Three Musketeers, Napoleon suddenly stands up :-)

They have a lot of fun with the idea of talking in pictures - the opening scene shows the hero being filmed in a scene where he is fiendishly tortured, and the intertitle (a word I never knew before!) comes up with "I'll never talk". But he does, right at the end, and with just the right words.