Hype or Genius? That’s the question on many people’s lips – especially with so much speculation as to whether or not it will steal the show at the Oscars, and take the prize for best picture.
I felt compelled last week to go and see it. My reasons for doing so were varied. Oddly enough though, the driving force for my going to see it was my appetite for new things. “What?!”, I hear you say; “there’s nothing new in silent movies”. Strictly speaking, that’s true, but for the vast majority of people alive today, it is new.
Yes, you can still get access to many old silent movies, but let’s face it, they are not that readily available on TV channels and movie theatres. As for most people of my generation, my memories of silent movies are pretty much limited to Charlie Chaplin’s classics. I remember watching them as a child, but even then they were very much a thing of the past, and not really the sort of movies that kids got excited about. “The Artist” therefore very much promised something new to me.
So did it deliver? My answer is a resounding yes. It delivered on all my expectations but also in ways that I simply wasn't prepared for. Ultimately, this film unequivocally proves that you do not need speech or loud, over bearing sound tracks to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable movie. The actors alone are there to tell the story, and they do a brilliant job of it. The movie delivered on all counts: it was entertaining, fun, and emotional. It is a true “feel-good” movie. But it had an added dimension, which I hadn't expected.
I had wrongly assumed that to make up for the lack of spoken dialogue, “The Artist” would feature a very loud and constant sound track. That’s not the case. The sound track is surprisingly subdued, and not a constant throughout the movie. Which makes for a very interesting experience in the actual theatre. As you watch the movie, you are intensely aware of what other people’s reactions are, of their every movement and every sound.
The film is actually much more of a “group experience” than what we are used to. I found myself to be incredibly aware of the emotions it created in people around me. I also found myself to be waiting for slightly louder bits of music (there were few of them!) to ruffle through my sweets bag… That, in its own way, was creating a great deal of fun within the audience, as we were all trying to be as quiet a possible.
So, my verdict is that this is most definitely not hype, but a film you should all go and enjoy.
Before I disappear into the blogosphere, I want to share with you a thought, which has been amusing me over the last few weeks.
Don’t you think it is odd that the two Oscar nominated pictures which are generating most headlines, are both about silent movies? “The Artist” is a brand new French silent movie, while "Hugo" is a thoroughly modern film about old French silent movies.