• Charlie Vogelsang

The Artist (2011) Review

10 years ago the world fell in love with silent picture The Artist - but how does it hold up in 2021?

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo as George Valentin and Peppy Miller respectively. It follows the relationship between the two - one being an older silent movie star and the other being a young starlet on the verge of fame in the wake of the talkies.

The Artist won five Academy awards, seven Baftas and six César awards. It pays homage to a vast amount of silent movies and stars. The lead character of Valentin is strongly influenced by Douglas Fairbanks and the film is influenced by directors such as Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Murnau and Wilder. Is The Artist just as good 10 years later - or was it just a passing fad?

Valentin and Miller on their first meeting

Beginning with George Valentin, it shows him at the top of his fame in the silent era of Hollywood. He has a huge house, popularity and money as well as a gorgeous blonde wife. Peppy Miller is just starting in her career but she encounters Valentin at a premiere and uses the short lived fame to get an audition as an extra on his studio lot.

For a silent film to be made in the 21st century, it requires a huge amount of skill

From the charming first meet of the two when she clumsily bumps into him, Valentine shows what a funny and cool guy he is. During their second encounter, he becomes enamoured with her legs and they share a small dance. He saves her from being fired, and the two can barely get through their scenes without giggling or just looking at each together.

Soon, Valentin finds himself battling against the talkies and believes that silent films are still the future. Valentin even states that “if that's the future, you can keep it.” He ends up investing all of his money into a silent film and his loveless marriage finally ends. In the meantime, Miller becomes a star who has successfully transitioned from silent to talking pictures.

Miller becoming the star she always wanted to be

The Artist is silent throughout the entire film with a musical score and sounds to enhance the scenes. For a silent film to be made in the 21st century, it requires a huge amount of skill and manipulation. The best scene is the one in which Valentin loses his voice and all you can hear are ambient sounds - Dujardin acts outstandingly in this scene.

Music is crucial to the film as it plays with the audience constantly to enact reactions and emotions. The score was composed by Ludovic Bource and without it, the film might well be nothing.

This is a wonderful homage to a beautiful time in cinema

To act in a silent film typically means exaggerated movements to better understand the actors, but that is not the case with The Artist. The actors are not over the top, and much is inferred by the audience. This is clever but is still easy to follow. All the cast were phenomenal as acting without dialogue requires skill, discipline and restraint.

The Artist is gorgeous and despite the lack of colour, it’s mesmerising. It's a wonderful homage to a beautiful time in cinema. Oh, and there's an adorable dog which will melt your heart - and a final dance sequence that’ll leave you thinking about it long after the credits.