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Cannes 2011 Review: Michel Hazanavicius' B&W Silent Film 'The Artist'


In today's modern world, we're used to seeing films in color, with sound, with music, with dialogue, and sometimes even in 3D. Every once in a while a filmmaker goes black-and-white to tell a story. But before yesterday, never have I seen a modern filmmaker attempt to create a completely new B&W silent film. Not only did French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius do exactly that, but he has crafted a wonderful homage that's just wonderful and exudes an effusive love for cinema. It's called The Artist and stars French actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo and is set in the late 20s in Hollywood at the end of the silent film era. 

The plot is fairly straightforward, and it's essentially a silent film all over again. George Valentin (Dujardin) is a big silent film star, but with the advent of sound and talkies, his career begins to wither away, as its a new era and no one wants to see an old star. Early on, he bumps into Peppy Miller (Bejo), a wannabe starlet who starts with small side roles and eventually becomes the new hot thing, breaking out big with the talkies. George even has a Jack Russell Terrier who follows him around is on screen in every scene he is, just like in the old days. There's a bit of a love story, but it's more of a tragedy about the downfall of an actor at the advent of technological progression. Which, I would say, is just as relevant today as it was back in the 20s.

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