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  • Marc Primo Warren


Updated: Mar 11, 2021

This is an article “How ‘The Artist’ Appealed to Modern Audiences” by Marc Primo Warren

In 2011, French film director Michel Hazanavicius gave us the silent movie homage The Artist which took modern audiences by storm with its witty and highly-entertaining storyline, choreography, and visuals. That time, no one had really expected how a ‘back to the roots’ sort of film that was intentionally devoid of spoken word and color could re-capture the imagination of a global generation of audiences that have long been immersed in catchy repartees replete with the flash and bangs of contemporary cinema.

But, just how did The Artist revive a once forgotten film genre to the delight of younger audiences? Was it the nostalgia that can give those who are of advanced age tears of joy? Or the experience of appreciating film as it was meant to be appreciated all along? What may seem like a regression to simpler cinematic times to many is actually a challenging concept to achieve in today’s times.

The plot

Reminiscent of such film classics as A Star Is Born, The Artist tells the tale of enigmatic 1927 silver screen star George Valentin and his adorable four-pawed sidekick Uggie as they tread the pathways of movie stardom.

During the opening of his new film A Russian Affair, George chances upon an ingenue named Peppy Miller who swiftly gets past security to give him a kiss on the cheek. Though smitten, George chooses not to fall into an affair out of marriage with Peppy as she rises towards the cusp of her own stardom—quite ironically to the eventual fading of George’s own.

The hook

With a seemingly innocent yet engaging plot, The Artist has plenty of moments and cinema magic that will hook audiences from start to finish. Visuals such as the choreographed skit between George and Uggie is absolutely entertaining, not to mention the many slapstick laughs that are definitely funnier without any words spoken.

However, audiences were more enamored by how George and Peppy seem to draw closer together yet also drift apart as George chooses to be a gentleman when it comes to his otherwise unhappy marriage. Perhaps this is also where the past and present meet in the film in terms of symbolisms as how George is averse to talking to his wife, and more importantly, how he abhors talk in film which illuminated his position as a purist who believes that silence is art itself.

The achievement

The most beautiful thing about The Artist is how it tells a simple story that gives audiences a complex aspect of modern cinema to think about. For something that does away with dialogue and color, it has become one of the most eloquent films that links how audiences appreciate what they see on the silver screen and pure artistry.

We see a little bit of ourselves in its characters and know more about what excites our senses, albeit seemingly lacking. What the film has achieved is to teach us that simplicity is not to be mistaken as a less profound experience but rather serve as a wellspring of insights from deep within our introspects.

Today, when social media has encouraged so much talk that sometimes obfuscates even the truth, The Artist captivates us without words and has successfully shown us that what’s really important is the emotions and thoughts within us rather than the din of everyday life.

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