1. I expected it to be good.
2. I expected it to be black and white
3. I expected it to be silent.
It was all of those things.
But what I did not expect was to be immersed in a true cinematic experience. The likes of which have not been seen for a long time.
As of 2012, nearly everyone who grew up during the roaring 20’s, the height of the silent film era, has passed away. This means that for the past 4, if not 5, generations, the western world has been entertained by the colors and sounds of modern Hollywood. And very few people today have seen a silent film in the theaters.
And if you’re like me, you’ve never seen a silent film, period. In a theater or otherwise.
That is, until The Artist.
The real appeal of the Artist, from a purely cinematic perspective, is not simply that it has no sound, but that it masterfully embraces the charm of early cinema, complete with standard 4:3 screen size, brilliantly timed theme music, subtitle screens for key dialogue scenes, and wonderfully executed physical performances.
The plot of The Artist is simple enough. An actor named George Valentin (played by the charming and eminently likable Jean Dujardin) at the height of his career in silent films meets Peppy Miller, a young girl played by the scene stealing Berenice Bejo, who is just breaking into the industry. As their paths cross, Valenin finds himself unable to cope with the introduction of “talkies”, or sound-filled movies, and Peppy finds herself at the top of the new Hollywood, a place where sound reigns supreme.
It’s the type of story that we’ve seen before, but it’s executed so well that it feels current and fresh. And when I say “executed well” I mean that there is not one part of the movie that I can call a weak spot. It is simply an excellent piece of film.
The Artist follows Valentin, who is in fact THE artist, in his descent into darkness, while catching shimmering glimpses of Peppy Miller along the way. It is a story about the changing times. It is a story about success and failure. But most of all, it is about the perils of pride in the life of a person.
I’d hate to give away too much of the film by diving into the theme of pride that runs the entire length of the film, so I’ll just say this:
Pride, if left completely unchecked, will certainly destroy a person, and The Artist displays this reality better than any movie I can remember seeing.
There are few themes more concretely rooted in Scripture than this. Virtually every sin that the Bible recounts can be traced back to pride in the heart of the sinner. the Serpent appealed to Eve’s pride when he convinced her to eat the apple, and ever since pride has been our greatest downfall.
Proverbs 16:18 says that pride comes before destruction, and James goes so far as to say that God opposes the proud.
Humility is the road that leads to salvation, and to find out if The Artist walks that path, you’ll just have to see the movie.