Silent Film: The Artist

In the age of perplexing audio and visual effects, it is just refreshing to finally reconcile to where everything really had started from- silent films. I myself really didn't think that it is such a bright idea to befuddle myself in reconciling with mute movies while there are loads of good films around me to choose from, but as how Jose Garcia Villa puts it- it’s all art for art’s sake.

The 2012 Oscars award-winning Michael Hazanivicius’ silent film The Artist, as to what it conspicuously conveys is all about the life of an artist trapped in the dawn of silent films and the twilight of talking movies. The contradicting worlds are represented by George Valentin (Jean Dujardin)- the multi-millionaire silent film actor and the new talking sweetheart Peppy Miller(Berenice Bejo), apparently his lover. Valentin, grips in his art of silent motion picture when he is asked to do ‘talkings’ and eventually have gone broke while standing for his pride. Miller, on the other hand, becomes the breakthrough artist of the talking motion pictures. 

Valentin lost everything from his extravagant lifestyle as an actor to his own soberness to the point that he almost thought of committing suicide. Miller, however, didn’t give up on him, and eventually found an equinox between Valentin’s silent world and her talking one- music, which then served as the greatest innovation in the scene of motion pictures.

I was in complete awe with the fact that in spite of not having any supporting dialogues and visual enhancement, the movie was no less that excellent. It opened by showing the haughty yet humorous persona of George Valentin, so I really thought that it was just another representation of Charlie Chaplin. However, as the story went on, I caught myself riding the rollercoaster of emotion, from laughter to sweetness to tragedy and back again in spite of literally not hearing anything. In all honesty, I really thought the silent films were all but Charlie Chaplin- humor, humor and more humor, so I was really astonished how The Artist got such firm storyline- and was nevertheless, palpable enough. I really had felt its center: showing how an artist can experience the entire gamut of life because of his love for his craft.

Another thing that really amazed me was how it nullify my foreboding that most, if not all, of the artistic sense of a movie comes in its verbal factor. I, being a writer (well, specifically an aspiring one… yet!) am very queer to the words going out of the actors’ lips. Script is perhaps 60% of the total impact of a movie for me, but in silent films there is none, but the raw emotions plus its strong storyline filled that lacking 60% and even exceeded. The only thing I can’t seem to distinguish is the urge of finding a quotable line… and I was again surprised to find one despite the absence of a decent script!

Wife: I am not happy.
Valentin: So is everyone.

Perhaps the greatest challenge I had was focusing myself entirely on the movie. Since it was a silent film, it is expected that everything shall be me transmitted visually so I needed to put down all other stuff I was doing that time to concentrate. Boy, isn’t that such a sly way of a filmmaker to really obtain the complete focus of his audience!

The movie proved to me that amidst the innovations in the film industry, black and white is still the optimum texture of artistry and silence can sometimes be the best way of expressing one’s self… and needless to say, silent films can be the very thing that can satisfy that elusive movie satisfaction you’re wondering about, as it did to me!

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