Tags: Berenice Bejo, Blu-ray, James Cromwell, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, Michel Hazanavicius, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, UltraViolet
has an average rating of 8.2 on IMDb
4×3 1080p in AVC on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are lengthy, in HD & very worthwhile
– 100 minutes
– The Weinstein Company / Sony
This uses 22.9GB for the movie out of 38.6GB total.
Street Date: June 26th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was both written & directed by Michel Hazanavicius. It’s set in Hollywood during 1927 during the silent film era and the main character is a silent film movie star by the name of “George Valentine” (played by Jean Dejardin). As the film starts out we the audience are treated to some footage from one of his films and the reaction by an audience in a theater during the premier. Backstage the star, George, is watching and listening along with the head of the studio (played by John Goodman) to the reaction from the audience. It’s a hit and the audience is loving it. After the film ends George comes out, along with his canine co-star, to take a bow and thank the audience. His other co-star “Constance” (played by Missi Pyle) is absolutely furious that he chose to bring the dog out with him instead of her. Eventually the head of the studio sends her out onstage to join George. She gives some very unkind words to the star and takes her bow and thanks the audience; only to be sent offstage. George remains onstage with his canine co-star and eventually takes an exit stage left only to come back out as the audience is giving him a standing ovation of sorts. It’s obvious from what we see here that this guy is perhaps the most popular silent film star at this point in Hollywood. He’s at the peak of his career and loving it. He has such wonderful charisma and a great smile that it seems the world is his and sure to stay his for a good while to come.
After the premier of the film George exits the theater and poses for photos from the members of the press while beautiful young ladies with their autograph books are giddy at the sight of the star and are being held back by police officers. One young lady in that crowd ends up dropping what appears to be her autograph booklet and bends down to pick it up yet manages to end up making it through the police officer holding her and the other ladies back. She bumps right into the silent film sensation that is George Valentine. At first it’s very awkward not only between Mr. Valentine and her but also to the members of the press whose jaws almost drop. Eventually Valentine plays it off and his blank stare turns to a very encouraging smile. The young lady is relieved and herself smiles and tries to play along with the moment. The members of the press ask for the two to pose for some photographs, which they do. She decides to plant a kiss on the side of Valentine’s cheek and that photo ends up on the front page of the trade magazine Variety the very next day with the headline “Who’s That Girl” — the thought on everyone’s mind; especially the audience at this point. We see the very next day George wake up and come to breakfast with his wife “Doris” (played by Penelope Ann Miller) who happens to be reading that trade magazine and doesn’t seem to pleased by the photo. It’s obvious these two have some marital issues but George just tries to play it off with his charisma and wonderful sense of physical humor by dipping his nose into his breakfast and sitting there with an innocent look on his face.
The young lady who ended up breaking out of the crowd the night before and posed for the pictures is named “Peppy Miller” (played by Bérénice Bejo). She’s absolutely excited that she’s on the front page of Variety with that headline aimed at her. She decides this is the best time if any to try her hand at becoming an actress so she shows up the very next day to Kinograph Studios, the studio where George Valentine does his films. Peppy sits down to wait for the chance to be an extra. She sits down next to a man (played by Malcolm McDowell) and show’s him the trade paper with her picture on the from page. He flips the trade paper over and runs his hand across the headline questioning who she is, if to emphasize she’s going to have to do a lot more than that to make it in Hollywood. Peppy takes his gesture in stride and eventually gets the chance to go up in front of a casting guy who’s looking for three girls who can dance. The first two girls standing beside her immediately begin to dance and he tells them they have the parts as extras. Peppy is next up and he asks her if she can dance to which she replies physically with one very energetic dance and irresistible facial gestures. The guy casting the parts of extras is simply blown away and all smiles. Even though there’s no dialogue shown in text we can tell she gets the part as she begins to physically celebrate. She turns back to the man she had shown the trade paper to earlier and tells him her name; as if to tell him he should remember it as he’s going to be hearing a lot of it in the future. The girl has spunk, you can tell that much and she’s destined for great things. Her first film she’s featured in as an extra involves her dancing alongside her hero George Valentine. The two have chemistry both onscreen and offscreen but the fact he’s married causes some real complications as you’d imagine. Yet the two become friends and he even gives her some tips on how to become a famous actress.
As I mentioned earlier silent film star George Valentine seems to be at the peak of his career but something happens one day in 1929 (two years after the beginning of the film) that changes things majorly in his life. After he’s finished shooting a scene for his latest film the head of the studio asks George to come see something. He takes him into a dark screening room with other studio members where he shows him footage of what will later become known as “talkies” — films that feature actual audio dialogue recordings. George watches but after the screening is over he gets up and laughs and attempts to leave the room. Before he can leave the screening room the head of the studio tells him not to laugh because it’s the future, to which George replies along the lines of saying that if that’s the future he can have it. This seems to be the beginning of the end for George’s career as he refuses to do “talkies” and when the studio decides to halt production on all silent films. He’s absolutely heartbroken but he doesn’t give up. He has encouragement and support from his chauffeur and friend “Clifton” (played by James Cromwell) who refuses to leave his side. Meanwhile, Peppy Miller has been working her way up from being just an extra in various films all the way to co-starring and starring roles in silent films. She’s eventually picked to be one of the new faces of Kinograph Studios in their transition to “talkies” and soon becomes a star of the silver screen. It seems that a complete reversal here has happened with George being let go from the studio and her rising to fame. What happens here after this point you’ll have to watch the film to see. I won’t spoil that as it’s a very amazing film with lots of emotion, rough history regarding silent films demise, Hollywood’s transition to “talkies” and a very nice bit of both comedy and romance thrown in as well.
“The Artist” proves to be a very heartfelt, comedic and enjoyable film. It’s also a very nice tribute to the early days in Hollywood of silent films. The acting here by every cast member is absolutely wonderful, especially by the two leads Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The supporting roles by folks like James Cromwell and John Goodman are very memorable and add a whole lot to the film. The film ended up being nominated for a total of TEN “Oscars” (Academy Awards) and ended up winning FIVE. The categories of Academy Awards the film won are listed below:
- “Best Achievement in Costume Design”
- “Best Achievement in Directing”
- “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score”
- “Best Motion Picture of the Year”
- “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role”
In addition to Academy Awards the film ended up taking home other awards such as a “Special Award” from AFI Awards, “Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical” from the American Cinema Editors, “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures” by the Directors Guild of America, “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role” for Jean Dujardin by the American Actors Guild, FOUR Critics Choice Awards out of the ELEVEN it was nominated for, FOUR Independent Spirit Awards out of the FIVE it was nominated for, as well as THREE Golden Globes out of the SIX it was nominated for. You can find a full list of the awards the film was nominated for and won over at IMDb.
It was also nominated for a total of TWELVE BAFTA Awards and ended up winning SEVEN. The categories of BAFTA Awards the film won are listed below:
- “Best Cinematography”
- “Best Costume Design”
- “Best Director”
- “Best Film”
- “Best Leading Actor”
- “Best Original Music”
- “Best Original Screenplay”
The film was a major hit with critics and moviegoers alike. It has an outstanding 98% (out of 100%) rating on the “tomatometer” and is “Certified Fresh” over at Rotten Tomatoes. The film not only was a hit with critics, moviegoers and in terms of awards but it was also a success at the box office. It cost reportedly 15 million dollars to make and ended up grossing 133 million dollars at the box office worldwide (with 44.6 million of that in domestic) — according to Box Office Mojo. The studio (The Weinstein Company) definitely made back their money from this wise investment and stands (along with home video distributor Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) to make a lot more money now that the film is finally hitting home video.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in BLACK & WHITE in the 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio. Because of this being the that aspect ratio there are black pillar bars on the sides. That’s normal. According to the technical specifications on IMDb this was shot on Super 35MM film using the PanArri 435 ES and Panavision Super Speed MKII cameras. In fact, HERE‘s a very interesting article with the DP (director of photography) Guillaume Schiffman discussing his work (cinematography) and those cameras he used. An interesting fact here is the film was actually shot at 22 frames per second and then turned to the traditional 24 frames per second to give the effect of movement from the old silent film era. Another few interesting facts here for you regarding how the film was shot. It was actually shot on traditional Kodak color film and then was turned to Black & White in post-production. Also, the DP mentions that he went to Panavision and asked for some older lenses to use to give the film the older visual style. This turns out really beautiful and is a total “throwback” to the days of silent films. The only difference here in comparison to original silent films from the era the film takes place in is that you get one hell of a lot more clarity here because they used Super 35MM film. This has an absolute amazing abundance of detail throughout the film, especially in those close-ups of the two main characters. Nothing at all to complain about here visually. It looks beautiful here in Hi-Def and earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. It’s no wonder it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. You might first ask yourself why a silent film would need a 5.1 mix and the answer to that has a whole lot to do with the film’s original Score (music) done by Ludovic Bource. Also, sure it’s a throwback to the way old silent films were presented but this is a lot more unique than any of those classic silent films. The reason for that is that this film was mixed with a surround (5.1) mix in mind, unlike the films back then that were mixed with a single speaker in mind (Mono). You get a musical presentation here that almost entirely carries the film throughout with a few exceptions. There’s an excellent amount of rear channel presence and LFE (bass) as well at times. The music here ranges from upbeat to subtle (mellow) to downright intense. The musical instruments here are what really make the most emphasis on bass via the subwoofer; namely the percussion instruments. The intense musical parts are the main moments when the amount of LFE is at its peak and is sure to get your attention and set the mood perfectly for what’s happening in the film.
The fact there’s no pauses for dialogue here means that there’s almost constantly music playing to accompany the visuals and text that displays key dialogue. There are some exceptions where for instance there will be short pauses in between musical numbers where you’ll get a few seconds of silence. There’s also a point around 30 minutes in the film where it turns first to total silence for a short bit and is then followed by nothing but sound effects. Here you’ll hear strong emphasis on every single noise happening around the main character. This is a very intense sequence and like the intense musical moments grabs your attention and sets the mood of the film perfectly. Shortly after this sound effects sequence there’s roughly a good 30 seconds or so of silence before the music starts back. The sequence itself lasts roughly around 3 minutes total. That’s one of the few exceptions that I mentioned earlier where the original music doesn’t entirely carry the film.
All and all this sound mix is downright impressive to be roughly 98% just the original score. It sounds absolutely beautiful and is mixed wonderfully in 5.1 configuration as well as makes definite use of a lossless audio format like DTS-HD Master Audio. This may upset some of you but I totally stand behind this decision. I give this a very impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Gripe all you like about it only being a silent film but sound, namely the music, plays a very, very important role here and is almost a character itself in the film. Ludovic Bource‘s original score is done complete and utter justice and is a downright pleasure to hear in lossless 5.1 audio.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
- “Blooper Reel” (2:14 – HD) to be silent (like the film itself) proves to pretty funny.
- “The Artist: The Making of an American Romance” (21:56 – HD) includes interviews with cast members James Cromwell, John Goodman, Bérénice Bejo, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Jean Dujardin, Malcolm McDowell as well as the writer & director Michel Hazanavicius and film critic/historian Wade Major. The folks giving interviews here all discuss the characters and the plot to the film, some of which include “spoilers”, so save this for after you’ve seen the film. There’s some really cool behind-the-scenes footage on set here as well. They also discuss the history of Hollywood and silent films as well as the first “talkie” “The Jazz Singer” from 1929 which brought great change to Hollywood and even the transition problems some silent film actors had trying to do these films.
- “Q&A with the Filmmakers and Cast” (44:57 – HD) was done after a showing of the film and hosted by Matt Holzman of KCRW. The panel here includes Missi Pyle, James Cromwell, Bérénice Bejo, writer & director Michel Hazanavicius, producer Thomas Langmann, Jean Dujardin and a translator. The translator is for Jean Dujardin as he speaks pretty good English but at times prefers to speak in French or needs things translated to him in French. Questions are asked by the host himself, from online submissions like Facebook and Twitter as well as from members of the audience. You’ll learn some very interesting facts here like that the film actually did have dialogue as James Cromwell discusses. The writer & director Michel Hazanavicius is actually married to the co-star Bérénice Bejo who he claims he specifically wrote the part of “Peppy Miller” for. Hazanavicius also claims he watched around 80 to 100 silent films while he was researching and writing the film. He cites inspiration from silent film legends such as Buster Keaton and Charles (“Charlie”) Chaplin. We also learn that music was played on set during the filming. At times the music was just music from the 1920s but sometimes it was actually the original score to the film as co-star Missi Pyle discusses. Lastly we learn that the film was shot in a matter of just 35 days.
- “Hollywood as a Character: The Locations of The Artist” (5:10 – HD) includes interviews with co-stars James Cromwell, Malcolm McDowell and writer & director Michel Hazanavicius discussing the choice to shoot in Los Angeles (namely in historic Hollywood) and the locations used. The locations used here include the Paramount backlot (although not mentioned), The Bradbury building, The Orpheum Theatre, The Los Angeles Theatre, the Cicada Restaurant and the Mary Pickford House. This also includes some interviews with the owners & proprietors of these locations.
- “The Artisans Behind The Artist Featurettes” include:
- – “The Production Design” (2:27 – HD) includes interviews with production designer Laurence Bennett and set decorator Robert Gould as well as some of the folks featured in all the previous featurettes.
- – “The Cinematography” (1:22 – HD) includes interviews with the writer & director and co-star Malcolm McDowell discussing the DP (director of photography) and the lighting choices in the film.
- – “The Costumes” (3:44 – HD) again includes interviews with some of the folks featured in the previous featurettes as well as the costume designer Mark Bridges.
- – “The Composer” (3:55 – HD) yet again includes interviews with some of the folks featured in the previous featurettes and gives us a glimpse at both footage of the composer Ludovic Bource and his orchestra recording the music as well as an interview with him in French (featuring English subtitles).
Overall the bonus materials here prove to be pretty lengthy totaling up to roughly an hour and half in length and are all presented in HD. These are all very enjoyable, informative and worth the watch for those who enjoyed the film. The Q&A and “making of” featurette prove to be my two favorite supplemental materials and are definitely worth seeing even if you’re not the biggest fan of watching bonus materials. Lastly, the inclusion of an UltraViolet digital copy is a nice touch to seen thrown in. My only complaint here is that the release didn’t come in the true form of a “combo pack” with a DVD. Still, it proves to be a pretty solid set of supplemental material.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.