The Artist (Cert PG)

1 Disc (Distributor: Entertainment In Video) Running Time: 100 Minutes approx

I’m sure you all know the plot of this homage to the golden era of silent movies in which megastar George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) ignores the advent of talking pictures and falls into obscurity, just as a young dancer Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), whom he had discovered and pushed into stardom, hits the big time as she embraces the new movement.

The plot for this multi award winning film – the first silent film to win an Oscar since Wings at the inaugural Oscars ceremony in 1929 – may make take elements from Singin’ In The Rain and A Star Is Born but still manages to offer something fresh for modern audiences, providing a timely and delightful antidote to the current onslaught of CGI heavy films. It also cheekily references some of the major stars of the period who were either resistant to or suffered at the hands of the onset of talking pictures which movie buffs will have picked up on. Notice the genuine footage from Douglas Fairbanks’s Mark Of Zorro used in the film? Or that Peppy’s house was the real one originally owned by Mary Pickford? Does the name “Valentin” not even seem just a tad familiar? Even so, these aren’t malicious digs rather affectionate tributes from someone who clearly has a lot of love and respect for the golden age of early cinema.

Production wise it is very well observed, taking care to recreate much of the film making and presentation style of the silent era with finite detailing (with just a few very minor slip ups that only true hardcore silent film fans would notice) whilst being a silent movie that only tampers with modernity to enhance certain aspects of the tale. For example, after learning that his boss (John Goodman) is moving exclusively into sound pictures, George suddenly hears the sounds of everything around him except his own voice – and we the viewer also hear these things too: the clinking of a glass, a telephone, the dog barking, etc. To further illustrate director Michel Hazanavicius’s dedication to creating the most accurate experience possible, the picture of the main feature on this BluRay release is in 4:3 ratio and not widescreen like all modern release are. A very subtle touch that might go over a few heads.

By now it is common knowledge that this film has cleaned up at just about every award ceremony going and deservedly so. Take a look at the extras on the DVD/BluRay and you get an even deeper look at how far everyone, both cast and crew, went to ensure complete authenticity in recreating the period. Dujardin and Bejo are not just both believable and authentic looking leads but with neither being trained dancers, had their work cut out for them to successfully pull off their Fred and Ginger tribute act for the film. but as great as the human cast is, they are often upstaged by George’s faithful canine companion Uggy the Dog who is also the star of the “Blooper Reel” in the extras.

I could go on but you’ve probably read the same type of praise elsewhere ad infinitum by now. Simply put, this is a charming, easy going, well crafted affectionate tribute to a bygone age of cinema, and a modern film that is finally worth the hype. If you’ve already seen it at the cinema you can now relive the magic in HD with this BluRay release.

Extras:

The Artist: The Making Of A Hollywood Love Story

Hollywood As A Character: The Location Of The Artist

The Artisans Behind The Artist

Q&A With The Filmmakers And Cast

Blooper Reel

 

Rating – *****

Man In Black