By Riley Steffens ’22
The Artist takes place in the late 1920’s America, encapsulating the shift from silent black and white pictures to films that utilize color and sound. The protagonist, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a renowned silent film actor who begins the movie at the height of his career. As the story progresses, we see his career struggle against the changing film industry. However, the heart of this film is George’s relationship with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an up-and-coming actress. The movie exudes romance and remains extremely tasteful and heartwarming. It never feels as if the romantic element comes on too strong or too weak. It feels perfect.
Although the movie is a silent film, the movie speaks out loud with emotions and stuns with its visuals. The term “silent film” evokes the thought of a completely silent movie, but in reality, the film’s score is incredible at pushing along the film. The score, along with the fact that the film is in black-and-white, cleverly depicts the era of the Roaring ’20s. The music is one of the most memorable parts of the movie, as are the visuals. Due to the lack of spoken dialogue, the film is very image driven and uses beautiful film techniques and cinematography to create true works of art. However, the film is not entirely lacking dialogue, as title cards are used in some instances to provide viewers with a few precious moments of knowing exactly what the characters are thinking.
The characters in The Artist add a great amount to the beauty and nostalgia of the film. George is a very classic looking man whose unspoken charisma lights up the screen, no dialogue needed. Peppy as well is a very delicately beautiful woman who acts with strength and dignity. The scenes of the two together are absolutely electric and their silent chemistry is palpable through the screen. George’s dog (Uggie) is a definite standout. He acts as George’s sidekick, both in their film career and as his hero in their personal life. He has a wonderful relationship with his dog that evokes genuine nostalgia and love.
The Artist is a movie that I recommend to every viewer. It is heartwarming, entertaining, and absolutely beautiful to watch. Critics would agree, as the film won Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards. Treat your senses to this cinematic masterpiece.