Silence is Golden

Apologies for the headline, but I suspect that line is bound to be used after the Oscar ceremony next weekend when The silent movie The Artist should gather a good few of the golden statues, on the back of its success at the BAFTAs.

I’ve seen the film knocking around and for whatever reason, not really made the effort. But after seeing all the praise heaped on it, we thought we should do it. Only one cinema in Leeds (Vue The Light) was still showing it pre Oscar so we planned it all out. I know cinema shouldn’t be an effort per se, but it is for me. Transport, work, tired other half, busy schedule etc etc all conspires against cinema in my life – so a visit for us both (with a sister in tow) requires a degree of planning. Anyway, we made it and we had a lovely supper at Fuji Hiro so a perfect evening ensued.

The Artist is unashamedly old fashioned and wonderfully so. I love old films, black and white, Hollywood glamour, romance and all that stuff so this film was right up my street. I’m coming late to the party as far as this film is concerned so perhaps my job is to push waverers over the line.

This should help:

If you like blockbuster movies this isn’t for you.

If you like pretentious art house this isn’t for you.

If you don’t like happy endings, this isn’t for you (spoiler).

On the other hand, if you love craft and care and attention to detail storytelling then this is a film you’d enjoy. It’s a lovingly recreated story of another time, the central theme almost unimaginable to us now. Imagine films that had no sound at all and then when the technology allowed sound to be conveyed what do all the silent artists do then?

Plenty of parallels with the constant change of technology these days, where being adaptable and flexible holds sway over sticking by your guns. I felt for the silent movie star holding out, Canute style, against the tide of the talkies.

I think this film is successful not just because of the novelty factor of a silent film, because it focuses in on what makes a great film – emotion and caring about the characters. I know a film has got to me when I actually start to worry about what’s happening to them and how would I react and what would I say or think. The Artist effortlessly delivers that.

It’s brave and ballsy too – when was the last properly series silent movie made with the courage of its convictions? The actors are luminous: the lack of dialogue makes them work all the harder and their expressive faces stay a long time in the memory.  I just liked it because it hits the spot that many modern films don’t care to – build characters that people will care about and then deliver it in an entertaining way.

Job done.

One thought on “Silence is Golden

  1. I don’t dispute that it was lovely–I liked it, unlike Hugo which bored the crap outta me and seemed like The Emperor’s New Clothes, but as movies go, I don’t think it’s a better movie than Woody’s. Still it’s nice to go to a movie that’s good as nowadays so many leave me wanting my time refunded.

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