When Silence is Golden

A silent movie star,George Valentin (Jean Dujardin),wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published: February 23, 2012 3:50:14 am

An ode to the silent era,The Artist’s biggest challenge will be to prove its market value world over

A silent movie star,George Valentin (Jean Dujardin),wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion. Peppy Miller (Benerice Bejo),a young dancer who gets her first break because of her idol George,goes on to become a big star in the motion pictures. The film narrates the story of these two people over the years 1927-1931,from rags to riches and back to rags. It also shows the movement in films from the silent era to motion pictures,and eventually the musicals.

The story isn’t new to film buffs — every scene is familiar and the moments experienced before,but the execution makes one sit up and applaud. In an age when 3D is the biggest revolution in films,director Michel Hazanavicius takes you back to the silent,black-and-white era. The peppy background score and stellar performances just add to the magic of this film,and make it one of the most witty and moving tributes to the silent and black-and-white era.

The Artist has already swept three Golden Globes and seven BAFTA awards. The film has 10 Oscar nominations and the industry members are routing for it to win big at the Academy Awards later this month. The movie,which is all set to release in India on February 24,will test the audience’s tastes towards filmmaking.

The two special screenings held in Mumbai before the release saw a tremendous response. The second screening was followed by a panel discussion,hosted by film critic Rajeev Masand. The panelists comprised filmmakers Zoya Akhtar,Onir and Anurag Kashyap and actor-producer Sanjay Suri. Kashyap,who is known for constantly attempting to blur the lines between new-wave and mainstream cinema in Bollywood,was appreciative of the film for trying out something different. However,he pointed out that the market economics was his concern. “I am glad that this film has been brought to India. But it will be interesting to see how many people will actually watch it,” he said.

Seconding him,Akhtar hoped that the discerning Indian audience has evolved enough to accept this kind of cinema. She admitted to her favouritism towards “movies about movies” and rated The Artist over The Descendants. “I enjoyed The Descendants,but The Artist moved me,” she said.

Suri spoke of the performances,“Here,we find it hard to express even through verbose dialogues. These performances are a lesson to all young actors,” he said. However,Kashyap had a word of caution. “When a film of a certain genre does well,then there is an influx of similar films. I hope that does not happen; everyone making a silent film will kill the genre,” he asserted.

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