As a film student, getting to meet professional actors and directors is greatly inspirational for me. I recently got the opportunity to meet the writer and director of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, and one of the actresses from the film, Berenice Bejo. They were speaking at an event that my film class attended, during which we had the opportunity to ask them questions and analyze their film The Artist. The most exciting part for me was to hear about the reasons for making the movie and what Michel and Berenice gained from it.
The Artist came into the world of cinema at a very interesting time. In the twenty-first century most people think of hit movies as comedies, action movies with more violence than plot and romantic “chick flicks”. However, if you say the term silent film people generally think of old movies made in the early 1900s. Yet The Artist is a one of a kind film, as it is a silent film released in 2011 instead of 1920. It was brave of Michel to release such a unique film into an arena of very modern films. I think this movie in particular really gets to the core of classic filmmaking. It’s not about violent action or intense dialogue; it’s about images and emotion. To me, the images of films are what separates them from books and what makes them so unique. The emphasis on imagery and using it to tell a story without dialogue is what makes The Artist so special.
In my opinion, another part of the film’s success is the way it relates to human uniqueness. We are very visual beings and we use our imaginations on a daily basis. This film really taps into that imaginative and analytical side of people. We get to imagine what the characters’ voices sound like and we also get to imagine the colors of the world around them, and each of us can imagine it differently. I think this makes the film more fun for people to watch because they tend to be more involved in the movie’s world when part of it is something they imagined for themselves.
When Michel was speaking to us, he also emphasized the importance of imagery and the importance of having a strong script. Even though there isn’t a lot of dialogue, the movements of the characters and the way the camera captures them are essential to this film. He also mentioned that the movie was heavily influenced by this study of old silent films. I thought it was wonderful that Michel was able to educate people about old movies though making The Artist. Releasing the movie to a modern audience with a huge success rate really shows the timelessness of those old films. If more people watched old silent films they would probably enjoy them, but there is a general lack of awareness in today’s culture about the richness of old filmmaking. This movie does a great job of educating people about what they’re missing by not watching those films.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend The Artist. You can find it at the library. Hopefully it will inspire you to at least dip your toe into the expansive ocean of wonderful old silent films. If you do, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading and happy movie watching!