Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Artist

The Artist / The Artist. FR/BG © 2011 La Petite Reine / Studio 37 / La Classe Américaine / JD Prod / France 3 Cinéma / Jouror Productions / uFilm. P: Thomas Langmann, Emmanuel Montamat. D+SC: Michel Hazanavicius. DP: Guillaume Schiffman - black and white - 1,37:1. Duboicolor. PD: Laurence Bennett. AD: Gregory S. Hooper. Set dec: Austin Buchinsky, Robert Gould. Cost: Mark Bridges. Makeup: Clarisse Domine, Zoe Hay. Hair: Lynn Tully. M: Ludovic Bource. Bernard Herrmann's "Love Scene" from his Vertigo score (1958) is quoted extensively in the climax. "Jubilee Stomp" by Duke Ellington (1928). S: Nadine Muse. ED: Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius. Loc: Los Angeles. Casting: Heidi Levitt. C: Jean Dujardin (George Valentin), Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller), John Goodman (Al Zimmer), James Cromwell (Clifton), Penelope Ann Miller (Doris), Malcolm McDowell (the butler). - Uggie (the dog). 100 min. Original in English. Released by Scanbox with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm. 2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki, 3 March 2012 (weekend of Finnish premiere).

Technical specs from IMDb: Camera: PanArri 435 ES, Panavision Super Speed MKII and Lightweight Lenses - Laboratory: Laboratoires LTC, Paris, France - Film negative format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision3 500T 5219) - Cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format) - Printed film format: 35 mm (spherical), D-Cinema - Aspect ratio: 1.37:1.

A black and white silent movie (music only, no dialogue, except a few words in the finale), with intertitles, and in the Academy aspect ratio.

Set in Hollywood in 1927 and some three years later (tbc).

The Artist won both the César and the Oscar awards as the best film of the year a week ago - was this the first time that the same movie won both awards?

Having seen the preview too many times I was not looking forward to the film very much, but The Artist is much better than the preview which tries too hard to be entertaining.

The Artist is quality entertainment, and Michel Hazanavicius does intelligent hommages to Singin' in the Rain, A Star Is Born, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. The scenes in the grand premiere in a 1927 palace cinema complete with a big orchestra and the reconstructions of film productions in big Hollywood studios seem accurate.

The Artist may not be an exceptionally profound movie, but it is full of witty observations. My favourite sequence is George's "sound nightmare" where the falling feather sounds like thunder. The Artist is a story of true devotion (between Peppy and George), and it belongs also to the films where a dog (a Jack Russell terrier) has a central role.

The Artist shows also that a silent movie (a movie without dialogue) can be very successful today. The cinema was full and the spirit was high among the audience. The translators in bilingual Finland had a special challenge of trying to compress a lot into less space than they usually have at their disposal, and they did very well in the art of condensation.

The visual quality is high, and I was impressed with the black and white cinematography. It has been shot on 35 mm film, and the digital post-production has been conducted at Duboicolor very well.

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