In an era of high budget 3D pictures and lavish special effects that so often immerse the audience in thundering sound and vivid color, the last thing you’d expect to see on screen during the lucrative holiday movie season is a black and white silent picture. And yet, that’s exactly what French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, 44, has produced.
According to the Los Angeles Times, The Artist is set in the late 1920s and early ’30s and “…follows a silent film heartthrob, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), and a chorus girl, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), who meet just as talkies are arriving. The new technology will transform her into a star and him into a relic, leaving him penniless, despondent and alone. Yet the two develop a tender affection.”
Given how many movies are now filmed outside of southern California, I was particularly pleased to learn that The Artist was shot locally and used a number of classic Hollywood locations. Examples include the Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. backlots, Mary Pickford’s Hancock Park starter mansion, and the Bradbury Building and Orpheum Theater in downtown L.A.
This project was clearly a gamble for all involved, but it has been doing well in France and is generating plenty of pre-Oscar buzz on the festival circuit. I can’t wait to see it and hope that it lives up to all the excitement and perhaps even spurs the development of other risky film projects.
When: Opens Friday, November 25, 2011
Where: ArcLight Hollywood, located at 6360 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Listen to the November 21st broadcast of “The Business,” hosted by Kim Masters on KCRW. You’ll hear writer/director Michel Hazanavicius and producer Thomas Langmann talk about how and why they made The Artist.
Listen to or read the NPR Morning Addition Story about The Artist