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It’s the beginning of 2012, and I’ve just watched a silent film shot in black-and-white. No, I wasn’t watching an old movie on TV; I was watching the new film
. It’s sort of a homage to the films of yesteryear. Not only is it a silent film, it’s also about silent films and the eventual cross-over to those with sound.
The main character is a silent film star named George Valentin. He seems to be the most popular actor at the time, and he revels in it. After premieres of his movies, he takes extended bows and doesn’t want to leave the stage. Sucking up as much applause as he can get from the audience, he has no shame in stealing the spotlight from co-stars as well. At the end of one of these premieres, he bumps into a woman named Peppy Miller. She’s a nobody in the business, just trying to get roles as an extra and so forth. But she garners immediate attention once she’s spotted with Valentin, even if it was accidental. As an eventual extra in one of his films, he seems smitten with her. Next thing you know, Peppy Miller becomes a star herself. But as movies with sound become the big thing, people start to care less and less about George Valentin.
Soon enough, George becomes a has-been in the industry. He finds himself selling his assets in order to make money since he’s no longer sought after for film work. However, Peppy is a good person and keeps an eye on him. She shows concern for him throughout the film no matter how famous she becomes. Here’s my issue with the film: why does she care so much about him? Sure she’s a good person with a good heart, but the guy was a bit of a cocky, careless, attention whore. Of course, he did show interest in her so that explains a bit of her mutual attraction to him. But it was hard for me to feel so bad for this guy as she did, simply because he had it all and didn’t realize it until it was gone.
You’ve got to give the film credit for managing to take up 100 minutes with no dialogue. But then again, that’s how all films were back in that time. So it’s not really a unique feat, only that it’s not done anymore. That’s why the critics are eating up. When something different comes along, people feel that makes it great. But really the movie is just a simple story about an actor who loses his fame and the newly famous one feeling bad about it. There’s not much else to it. It could have been a lot more boring and dull, and the actors are pretty good (including George’s dog) but still, it shouldn’t be one of the front-runners at this year’s Academy Awards as it’s believed to be. When movies like this and Hugo are the leading contenders for Best Picture, it just tells me there aren’t as many great movies as there used to be.
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