Michel Hazanavicius brought faith back to the film community this year with the release of The Artist on Jan. 20. The one hour and 40 minute work of genius provided hope for the film industry when some thought it was at an all time low.
By Davey Strahm
The movie follows George Valentin, (Jean Dujardin), a thriving actor during the era of silent movies, and chronicles the difficulties actors faced during that time period.
Valentin is a silent movie star whose name is on the tip of every major producer’s tongue. When the optimistic and enthusiastic Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) steps onto the set, the film world is turned upside down as Valentin falls in love with Miller.
In a comedic scene, Valentin snakes through a crowd at a dance and bumps into Miller, who is still an extra at this point.To his dismay, Valentin struggles to complete the scene as he is too busy wooing Miller while they dance.
Two years later, Valentin is called into the producers’ private viewing booth to see “the future of film.” Valentin then witnesses his wife at the time, Missi Pyle, demonstrate the new sensation of talking. Valentin stands and chuckles, stating that this is not film.
As more and more “talkies” are produced, Valentin finds it harder to find work. Miller fares much better and is now the “bee’s knees” of Hollywood, producing films at an astounding rate.
After the crash of the stock market, Valentin loses everything, including not only his fortune, but also his wife. Bankrupt, Valentin is forced to sell all of his belongings at an auction.
As hero movies consistently do, Valentin—the cinematic phoenix—is reborn and his old director, Al Zimmer (John Goodma) offers him a chance to star alongside Miller in one of her new films.
Hazanavicius pays homage to many films of the era by packing his movie full of amusing allusions, such as the breakfast scene between Valentin and his wife, which is a clear reference to the classic film Citizen Kane.
The first thought when purchasing a ticket for this film is probably, “Why would I want to see this black and white film? It is 2012 for goodness sake.” However, this film features a “generation friendly” cast, including stars from this decade, both American and French.
There is no exaggerating when this movie is called a masterpiece. Moviegoers everywhere can breathe a breath of fresh air when viewing this work of art.