Monday, August 20, 2012

Saw The Artist

Yep, the silent. Watched it last night. What a fine, good-hearted and delightful film!

I've not seen many original silents; the best of those, Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood at the old Marion (IN) Memorial Coliseum, with a first-rate organist sweating himself skinny on the freshly restored pipe organ and a projector running at the proper speed* with a nice big screen, was more than enough to make me a fan. (Seriously, Doug Fairbanks in his prime? Swooooon!)

...And as it turns out, the title character in The Artist is indeed loosely based on Fairbanks, and played with remarkable grace and elan by Jean Dujardin; his opposite number is not so closely based on any one actress (as far as I could tell, though she has a more than passing resemblance to aviatrix Amelia Earhart!) but Bérénice Bejo was a marvelous choice and manages the look of the times (late 1920s through early '30s) extraordinarily well.

It's an engaging story, well-told; the sets and props are just about 100% right (give or take a record player) and the look of the thing is correct, too, right down to lens shadows when a really wide lens is in use. (Gunnies will appreciate the S&W revolver with hammer-mounted firing pin.)

If you like silent films -- or think you could bear one -- this is a film to see.

I happened to watch this film for an odd reason; two-thirds of the way through reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (in the dollar bin at the used-book store!), I wanted to see if my recollections of the divergence between book and (Swedish) film was correct. (It was, mostly; and the screenwriter did a smooth job of it, too). After two hours and twenty minutes of subtitles, a few title cards are no hurdle at all and I wanted to look at something a little less grim. It was good choice.
* Silents don't crank at the same rate as talkies. --And neither did the cameras for The Artist.


John said...

My favorite quote in the article about the small nukes:

"Anytime you put spent nuclear fuel on the highway with station wagons and soccer moms, there's a risk," Kelley said."

Sharing the road with soccer moms and station wagons is the risky part. Spent nuclear fuel doesn't text or get distracted by kids.

Roberta X said...

I think you wanted to comment on the previous posting.

Either that, or I missed part of the movie. ;)

Anonymous said...

Seeing a silent the way it was meant to be seen is something I have yet to do. I envy you, although not in the Obama voter sense of the word.

That's one reason I watch Turner Classic Movies a lot, they have the Silent Sundays programming with restored silents. Watching a restored silent film projected at the proper speed is a revelation for those of us whose appreciation of silent film was formed by those loop projectors they had at pizza parlors like the Shakey's chain in the Sixties and Seventies.

Mike James

Wayne Conrad said...

Silents, oh yeah! I've got a weakness for Buster Keaton. Amazing actor.

If you like trains even a little bit, go watch The General. Most of the movie features an American 4-4-0, beautifully shot. A real one, not a movie prop. The cinematography is incredible, and then there's Buster Keaton on top of it.

Anonymous said...

You used "aviatrix." My eighth grade English teacher would be proud to have had you as a pupil.

BobG said...

I'm with Wayne Conrad; I think "The General" is probably one of Keaton's best films, and is probably my favorite of his.

Robert Fowler said...

(Seriously, Doug Fairbanks in his prime? Swooooon!)

Down girl. ;)

Ken said...

I recommend Wings and any of Chaplin's silent films. I'd love to see them on the big screen.