In the age of IMAX 3D and sensory overload, "The Artist" makes a loud statement, capturing audience’s attention with the simple sound of silence.
With the advent of talking pictures in 1927, it was absurd to think that anyone would pour any substantial amount of money into a silent film ever again; let alone 85 years later. When word got out that there was a $30 million black and white French film being shot in Hollywood and oh yeah... it was SILENT, people laughed. Then again, as "The Artist" reminds us, some people laughed at the idea of talking pictures and look how that turned out.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard the rap sheet of awards this film has collected including Best Picture at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It’s been a good couple of years for French director Michelle Hazanavicius and producer Thomas Langdon, who recently made the first silent film to win an Academy Award since 1929. Visionary director and admirer of the silent film era, Hazanavicius wanted the challenge of telling a story with moving pictures and no dialogue, and it’s safe to say he overcame said challenge. "The Artist" is set in the late 1920’s, the beginning of the end for silent films, reminiscent of "Singing In The Rain," Hazanavicius paints a picture of an actor who faces a change in the way his art is made. George Valentin (now Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin) must speak or fade away with the rest of the voiceless faces of the silent era. Also starring Hazanavicius’ wife, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, and Malcolm McDowell, "The Artist" is full of recognizable, albeit, silent faces.
For a film that took home five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, one would think that the bonus features would reflect the hard work that merited such high praise. Unfortunately, the special features feel rushed and looked over, unlike the great detail and precision put into the actual film itself. The special features come with a silent blooper reel, a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers with KCRW, and a few featurettes that explore the old Hollywood locations and artists behind "The Artist." The biggest letdown is that the special features feel like promotional material. So instead of really getting into the process and the "Why Silent? Why now?"-behind the artist, the special features barely make a peep.
If you love cinema, have a soft spot for old Hollywood, or just want a break from the sensory assault of your day-to-day life in 2012, then check out "The Artist" on Blu-ray, and see what all the noise is about.
Blu-ray with UltraViolet Digital Copy