Friday, 22 June 2012

Why is The Artist a film worth watching?

1 It took guts to release a silent film in our Blu screen, 3D age of special effects and digitally enhanced sound. The filmmaker showed that you don’t need special effects and huge budgets to make a film worth seeing. Also in an age of great TV series, threatening to take over from film, the film’s director, Michel Hazanavicius, showed how film can still stand on its own as a powerful medium for entertainment.

2 It is arresting and emotive: audiences forget it is a silent movie.

3 It deals with the theme of change in so many ways.

4 It has a simple story but it is not always predictable: “BANG” ( if you have watched the film you will know what "BANG" means.)

5 Like the best post modern films it cleverly references other texts.

6 It has Uggie the dog – the skate-boarding dog who has become a star in his own right; animals were often used in silent movies; for instance, Chaplin had dogs, mules, monkees, elephants, lions, tigers, cats, in his films, e.g. The Circus, City Lights.

7 The film has great music which fits in skilfully with the action, situations and facial expressions/gestures; this music, too, is often derivative: you can hear the influences of Debussy, Satie, as well as  other early 20th century composers.

8 Michel Hazanavicius and Ludovic Bource pay homage to Bernard Herrman’s music from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which by the way, Bource uses brilliantly in the climatic scene.

9 It has what many great silent movies aimed for: comedy, pathos, drama and to be entertaining: I was reminded of City Lights, made in 1929, two years after the advent of “The Talkies”.

10 The film “speaks” about how the changes wrought by technology affect people who cannot nor will not change. The irony of the opening scene is more evident on a second viewing.

11 The film is consciously post modern where scenes and sometimes music are pastiched and referenced from other films; for instance, George Valentine and his wife at different ends of the breakfast table reference Orson Wells’s “Citizen Kane.

12 The film deals with stardom and how ordinary people are changed and affected by it; contextually, the film deals with the rise of stardom and how some stars had even more power than producers/studio bosses. It also deals with our context of celebrity culture where ordinary people can suddenly become well-known and then forgotten and how this can  affect them psychologically. Our technology of You Tube, the Internet and “Reality TV” and “Docu-drama” resonates in The Artist with many "temporary stars" being damaged by being left behind.

13 You can stop the film and any point and see frames with great mise-en-scene. The images in the frames could stand on their own, as they were obviously well thought out. For instance, after George Valentine leaves the Auction Rooms and nearly gets run over by a car (another sign of new technology) the cinema behind him is ironically showing “Lonely Star.”