Wired for sound
Sound demystified many a silent personality; it punctured the mystique. Their discipline, that physicality and gestural form of acting, now derided for its theatricality, was cast aside and forgotten. The artistry in The Artist comes from that craft; it’s a smouldering look, a routine in which Miller slips her arm into Valentin’s jacket and imagines the two embracing, or a simple recurring joke in which a dog plays dead every time it hears a noise like a gunshot.
It may seem quaint to modern eyes but Hazanavicius is consciously reviving a sentimental, melodramatic form of storytelling that can still charm 90 years on. He re-educates our peepers to notice the care in staging that, though no less integral now, had greater primacy when the only words came on intertitle cards. Ludovic Bource’s chirpy, sometimes thunderous score reminds us that silent films were never silent.
Cineastes will want to see The Artist for its celebration of mothballed technique and those simple romantic virtues that are anathema to modern filmmaking. Everyone else should go anticipating a great movie. More than a pastiche, it tells the story of film in the late twenties and early thirties with style and heart, and a fascinating story it is. See it, but remember: no talking.Pages: 1 2 3