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‘The Artist’ proves that silence really is golden

Photo from George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) act out a scene from Michel Hazanavicius's film "The Artist."

Remember the good old days when one could dress up and go a silent film? Neither do I. Yet the movie “The Artist,” currently in theaters, is collecting admiration and fans with its nostalgic 1927 charm.

The movie is set in Hollywood in 1927. Silent movie star George Valentin is at the peak of his career. The movie industry is in transition, though, and Valentin wonders if the arrival of “talkies,” or talking pictures, will ruin his fame and career. His fall in career is juxtaposed with young and vibrant Peppy Miller, a dancer set for a big break.

The uniqueness of the film is that it uses many 1920s film techniques to make the film authentic. “The Artist” is in black and white and is considered a silent movie. The dialogue, which is minimal, is presented as text on black slides between movie clips. “The Artist” is the first mostly silent feature film given a major theatrical release since Mel Brook’s “Silent Movie,” released in 1976.

Director Michel Hazanavicius took great lengths to not only make the film authentic in sound, but also in the method of how it was filmed. “The Artist” does not contain a single zoom shot because zoom technology did not exist in 1927.

The movie, which was released in theaters on Jan. 20, has already scored an 8.4 out of 10 on the Internet Movie DataBase.

Concordia freshman and movie enthusiast Elisabeth Clapp was first excited to see the film because of the positive things she had read about it online.

“I was very excited because I’m in the movie loop and heard lots of good things,” she said. “I think it was the prospect of the movie itself reminiscing within itself, a different concept.”

She and junior Elise Dukart ventured out to see the movie on a weeknight.

“It was weirdly empty in the theater,” Clapp said.

Since “The Artist” is mostly a silent film, the theater presented an ominous and quiet vibe not typical in today’s film world.

Sophomore Jenn Paquette was also impressed with the movie, though she went in knowing minimal things about it.

“Before, I was intrigued because it sounded interesting. I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

Paquette loved the silent take on the film and found the minimal speaking parts odd.

“I loved the interactions of the side characters. The actors were very impressive switching to silent movie actor roles,” Dukart said.

Though some online critics disapprove of “The Artist” for attempting to pick up the silent movie industry in a too modern sense, it is not often that one is confronted with both conflicting modern and evocative themes building upon each other.

Most agree that “The Artist” is a well-done and thoughtful film that could potentially act as a gateway to new fans of silent films or even a new modern-yet-vintage art form. The movie is still in theaters and can be seen at Marcus West Acres.

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