“The Artist” : An analogue admirer’s analysis
After waiting for about 2 months since I first watched the trailer and more than 5 since I first heard about it, I finally managed to watch “The Artist”. Between then and the night before last, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing only the superlatives and most glorious adjectives in reference to the movie. Although none from my close friends, I am referring to my favourite pastimes like Facebook, Twitter, American Cinematography Magazine, Total Film, Time Magazine to just name a few. Apart from setting unimaginable expectations in the sub conscious, it did generate a sense of delirious excitement in me, while I sat down for the experience. Here’s what I think, how it fared.
The Artist is an accomplished piece of work that should / would appeal to a wide spectrum of cine goers across the world. But “a lump in the throat” is reserved for the absolute fanatic of the craft. In my books, I consider myself a member of such a make belief club. Before I indulge in the sparkles and the fireworks, the movie managed to create while watching it and right after, let me get into some of the facts.This is as much as some may hate to accept, is a French production shot on location in Los Angeles and includes various craftsmen from both French cinema and Hollywood. But in true heart and soul this is an American story of the industry that sells dreams and most successfully so.There have been many stories about it in the past and so will be in future; that may have or will manage to tell it successfully and some not so much. The Artist, I perceive will have a special place amongst them all, a first among equals if You’d like. At a time, where the advent and renaissance of “Social Media” has brought fans of cinema and the ones who don the grease paints to unbelievable and sometimes unacceptable proximities, the process has inadvertently led to considerable degeneration of the mist that surrounds them and their lives outside the spot light, between “cut” and “action”. And at such times, “The Artist” is a breath of fresh air and works as a reminiscent of what movies right after its conception, stood for. A celebration of one such art form, from one such factory that has outlived itself in many ways in the past millennium.
The story itself is about an indispensable act of nature, “change” and how it affects the one’s who take success and in this case fame and admiration for permanency or as some would call it, granted. In life as much as in the world of glamour, nothing is constant. The protagonist’s fights with his inner demons about accepting change is projected in the simplest of manners which is why it works. Research of how it worked in the 1920′s and technical excellence in achieving the feel of those times more than the costume, make up and body language which we have come to expect of movies these days, makes it a product par excellence. The fact that the makers shot it at 22 fps as opposed to the standard 24 fps, helped them achieve what they did and is a serious case in point. Although its USP, “a silent film” will manage to draw the crowds and more so with all the nominations it has been getting, what would make them savour the experience is, how good it is, at it. Michel Hazanavicius who held this dream / passion project close to his heart for long before it came true chose his confidants for the lead roles, Jean Dujardin & Berenice Bejo (who also happens to be his better half). They have achieved major success in the OSS 117 series in France before this. Along with that some very familiar faces that constitutes the important players list includes the likes of John Goodman & James Cromwell who by the way pull off excellent character roles pivotal to the story line. Special mention to Uggy the Dog, who by the way has his own IMDB page now. But by and large Jean Dujardin with his impeccable sense of timing besides an affable charm, the original score produced by Lodovic Bource and performed by Brussels Philharmonic and most of all, Michel Hazanavicius who did not have to depend only on intertiles to tell a silent story, should be held high, very high in respect to what they have given us, the fans.
Come February 26th, people who watch movies and follow them for what it is worth, will wait to see if “The Artist” stakes claims at the 10 Oscar categories it has been nominated for (including BEST Picture). My only concern is, people should not give it a miss if it does not get some of them “Gold Statuettes” in the bag because for once, let’s not make The Academy the yardstick of its excellence and achievements. Martin Scorsese for all I care should have earned it long before for far better works than “The Departed”, for which he did. Lets for once, stand up and applaud “The Artist” wherever You are, until it deafens the ears that have grown accustomed to appreciation of the mediocre, because this one is not it. It is quiet truly and literally if I may, in a league of its own.
Watch this. One of the many scenes from an accomplished screenplay that will cast a magic spell on You. Enjoy