My Thoughts on The Artist, which I finally saw

Today I finally saw The Artist, that modern silent Film that had everyone buzzing about a best picture Oscar.

Considering all the work I have done with Keystone Theatre you might be shocked that it took me this long to see it. Well it wasn’t for lack of trying. I have made a few attempts to see the film and each time it had been sold out. I supppse that was a a product of the theatre I was trying to see it at; a local theatre that caters more to the film buff crowd, and one that happened to be showing all the best film nominees.

Today I woke up early and decided to take in the earliest showing. The theatre was empty when I got there, but by the time the movie started, the place was pretty full.

So, what did I think of the movie? It was good, as a film, but it didn’t blow my mind. I supppse that if I hadn’t watched as much silent film in the last seven years as I have, then The Artist would definitely have blown my mind.  I think I would have been surprised by how much can be conveyed without words, how deep a story that can be told, when the actors have to express what they are saying through non-verbal means.  As Amanda pointed out, there’s a joy in The Artist, and an engagement with the audience as they invest themselves in the creation of the story and the characters. Watching films by Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin or Mary Pickford, you realize that you’re doing some of the work, as you imagine what the character sounds like, as you pay attention to the body language and facial expressions of the characters in the film.  With silent film, you aren’t a passive audience member, like you are with most modern films: the audience is an integral part of the film experience, investing themselves in the characters on screen.  For me, when a character “has me” (ie: I empathize and root for the character), I find myself involuntarily emoting along with the character.  While watching The Artist, I did this quite a bit, as I invested in the journeys of both George Valentin and Peppy Miller.  Because of this, The Artist succeeds in the recreation of the silent film genre, both visually and in the audience experience.

I enjoyed the film, and hope that it inspires more people to take the time to watch some classic silent films.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve been put off of giving this film a try thus far. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against great artistry and excellent films – but I have had longstanding disagreements with the Academy over what films are actually good and deserving of prizes, feeling that sometimes they give the Oscar for hype, sometimes for political reasons… sigh.

    So – hearing from a trusted source who can give an idea of *why* this film deserves my attention over many other films out there is a great encouragement. I love great works – not just looking for the fluffy action flick… but a silent film? When I’ve never really enjoyed the really old silent films that I have seen? It has to have something peculiarly spectacular to grab my attention. I don’t necessarily think that’s a shallow opinion – everyone has their tastes and what is a great wonderful excellent film to one is not necessarily going to be another’s cup of tea.

    (Don’t get me started on “Doubt”… yech…)

    So thanks, Phil. I’ll put this one on the list to give a try!

    • If you are interested, Scott, I can suggest a couple of short silent films that I think are great.

      I suppose silent film isn’t for everyone, but I have a passion for it, and I think that The Artist really does a great job of capturing the genre.

  2. Pingback:Thoughts on the Artist from Last Man on Earth’s Phil Rickaby « Keystone Theatre

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