I just watched The Artist, and I was pleasantly surprised by how mesmerized I was after the first ten minutes. It didn’t feel odd to me at all that the audience could hear no dialogue. We didn’t need to. Everything that needed to be said was said through the picture and the acting. People say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that was definitely true for The Artist.
Gimmicks in Film
Although the film is about a time when sound was a new phenomenon in the film world, it’s still a relevant concept for today. Sound was the next new gimmick at that time, much like our new gimmicks are special effects and 3D movies. But the question is, do we really need all that to tell a good story?
I think The Artist proved that at the heart of every good film is a solid story. Gimmicks are great and fun to add to the film, but without story, that’s pretty much all you have.
I feel like by not having sound, the story was not spoon fed to me, and I was able to jump into the world and feel more a part of it. By the time the credits rolled, I felt I had experienced a very clear understanding of this story and was delighted to have traveled through it with the characters.
The Artist and Avarice
I was particularly excited to hear that the best film of the year was a silent film because I recently directed a silent film myself. It’s set in a fantasy world, very unlike The Artist, but they both share that same challenge of telling a story with no dialogue.
Through good acting and storytelling, a silent film should allow for the audience to be able to make connections to their own life experiences. Even without dialogue, I could understand exactly what the character was thinking and feeling because I could empathize with him in his situations. That’s what good storytelling is all about. Making a connection with the audience and communicating a concept to them.
And that is so hard to accomplish! But with a silent film, you’re not overwhelmed with someone else’s voice. You can only hear your own inner dialogue, which is why I think they can have such a strong impact on an audience.
Hopefully, that’s what I achieved with Avarice. I wanted it to feel like the person watching the film is actually taking the journey with the Girl. Without hearing her thoughts, you can see them and be a part of the same experience.
So thank you to The Artist for paving the way for silent films in this century!
Do you agree or disagree? Was The Artist a breakthrough film, or was being a silent, black and white film itself a gimmick?