The Artist (2011) Poster

(I) (2011)


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There is not a single 'zoom shot' in the entire movie because Zoom technology did not exist in the movie's time period.
Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo rehearsed the climactic dance sequence for five months, practicing almost every day in the same studio that Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly used to rehearse for Singin' in the Rain (1952). "It was really hard," remembers Bejo, "and even now when I look at the movie I can't believe how fast we're doing it. Sometimes it's like my feet still hurt."
Jean Dujardin became the first ever French actor to win a Best Actor Academy Award when he won an Oscar for this film.
The character of George Valentin is based on two silent movie stars, Douglas Fairbanks and John Gilbert. Both actors starred in silent movie swashbucklers, and both saw their careers decline with the introduction of sound films. (In Gilbert's case, his "squeaky voice" is often rumored to have caused his decline in the "talkies." But in fact, his clashes with studio head Louis B. Mayer were more to blame.) Both Gilbert and Fairbanks starred in occasional sound films, but never achieved the success that they had known in the silent era. Gilbert died of alcoholism in 1938, at the age of 36, and Fairbanks died of a heart attack (brought on by incessant smoking) in 1939 at age 56.
The breakfast montage in this movie, showing the breakdown of the marriage is a direct tribute to an almost identical montage in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941).
The film is shot with 22 FPS (frames per second). When played at the standard 24 FPS, the action becomes slightly accelerated. Most silent films were shot with 14 to 24 FPS, which makes many of these films appear "faster" in motion when played on modern projection equipment at 24 FPS. When sound films were introduced, the frame rate was standardized at 24 FPS to make it possible to sync the sound with the images.
The movie was originally shot in color, then converted to black and white.
In solitude, George views a reel from one of his silent swashbucklers through a film projector centered within his apartment. The film is in fact a genuine silent film, The Mark of Zorro (1920), which established its star, Douglas Fairbanks, as a real life silent era action hero and matinée idol, the kind George Valentin is portrayed as being within the film. The scene from Zorro is altered, however, substituting actor Jean Dujardin as George for Fairbanks for the close-up shots.
Ludovic Bource won an Academy Award for composing the Best Score for this film despite never having any formal higher educational training in music orchestration nor film score composition. (Bource learned to read music as a child from accordion lessons and studied jazz as a teenager.) Five arrangers and five orchestrators helped realizing his musical ideas with a large-scale symphony orchestra.
All the dancing sequences were performed by the actors themselves through heavy rehearsals.
This film is only the second ever silent film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The first was Wings (1927) which was the very first film to win the award for Best Picture in the Oscar's inaugural year. As Wings (1927) won just two Oscars, for Best Picture, Production and Best Effects, Engineering Effects, The Artist (2011) is the first ever silent film to win Oscars for Best Director, Best Score, Best Costume and Best Actor.
After Peppy Miller visits George Valentin at his mansion, she says to her male companion in the car, "Take me home. I want to be alone." This can be seen as a reference to the infamous line uttered by Greta Garbo in the film Grand Hotel (1932), "I want to be alone." Greta Garbo was an actress who was an international icon during Hollywood's silent and classic era, who successfully transitioned into talkies much like Peppy Miller. Another Greta Garbo parallel is that her frequent silent film co-star, John Gilbert, was not able to make a successful transition to the talkies.
The movie was shot in the 1.33:1 "Academy ratio," just as in silent-film days, since director-writer Michel Hazanavicius considered it 'perfect for actors' because it gives them 'a presence, a power, a strength. They occupy all the space of the screen.'
The scene where Peppy Miller wraps herself in George Valentin's coat is an homage to the scene in the silent film 7th Heaven (1927), where Janet Gaynor wraps herself in Charles Farrell's coat.
The role of Jack the dog was actually played by three matching Jack Russell Terriers: Uggie; Dash; and Dude, although The lead dog Uggie did the majority of scenes. All three dogs were colored before the filming began, made to look more alike.
First ever Academy Award Best Picture Oscar winner which was solely produced by a non-English-speaking country. The film was predominantly financed by France with some money coming from Belgium.
During filming, Jean Dujardin lived in an isolated 1930s house in the Hollywood Hills.
In order to include the old "Hollywoodland" sign in several shots, it was necessary to use special visual effects, since the "land" portion of that sign has been gone since 1949 when the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce contracted with the City of Los Angeles to repair and rebuild the sign which had fallen into a state of deterioration. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed so as to spell just "Hollywood," reflecting on the section of the city, and not the original housing development of "Hollywoodland."
George and Peppy briefly meet on a staircase with ornate wrought iron filigree. This staircase is in the central atrium of the Bradbury Building located at 304 South Broadway, Los Angeles, California. Dozens of movies, TV shows, and music videos have been filmed there. Most notably, the interior and exterior were featured prominently in Blade Runner (1982).
Peppy's house in the film is the house which Mary Pickford lived in before marrying Douglas Fairbanks and moving into the legendary Pickfair mansion (which was torn down in the late 1980s), and the bed where George Valentin wakes up is Mary Pickford's bed. In the briefly-visible dining room, you can also see an English Sheridan dining room table-and-chair set that belonged to Pickford, and the lace tablecloth also belonged to her.
This movie is considered to be the most ever awarded French Film in film history.
This film was one of two films at the 2012 Academy Awards which examined silent cinema. The other movie was Hugo (2011), both films were heavily nominated, and both pictures ended up winning the same number of Oscars, five.
The titles shown on posters and outside cinemas often mirror the plot - for example, "The Thief of His Heart" is visible as Peppy tries on George's coat,"The Lonely Star" when George sadly crosses a street and "Guardian Angel" is the Peppy Miller film visible just after the auction.
Michel Hazanavicius wrote a complete escape scenario for the film-within-a-film, "A Russian Affair", in the film's screenplay.
The first PG-13 rated (in the USA) Best Picture Academy Award Oscar Winner since Million Dollar Baby (2004) won eight years earlier.
The film makes use of Bernard Herrmann's love theme from Vertigo (1958) at a climactic moment, but this isn't the first time director Michel Hazanavicius has borrowed from Alfred Hitchcock. He also used visual and musical cues from Vertigo (1958) and from North by Northwest (1959) in his spy spoof OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), also starring Jean Dujardin.
On BAFTA 2012 Red Carpet, Jean Dujardin said in an interview that the movie was shot in just 35 days.
First black-and-white film to win the Best Costume Academy Award since the discontinuance of the Best Costume (black-and-white) Oscar in 1967. The last black-and-white film to win a Costume Oscar, for Best Costume (black-and-white), was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) forty-five years earlier.
The Napoleon extra as played Hal Landon Jr., refers to the life of Albert Dieudonné (1889-1976). Long after playing the eponymous hero of Abel Gance's 1927 silent Napoleon (1927), Dieudonné made a living from public lectures as Napoleon himself.
First completely black-and-white film to win the Best Picture Academy Award since Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) just over half a century earlier. Wilder was actually thanked three times during the Best Picture Oscar acceptance speech for this movie. The film is also the first black-and-white film to win this award since the predominantly black-and-white Schindler's List (1993) eighteen years earlier.
The faux film credits that are shown to illustrate Peppy's rise to stardom contain at least two "Easter eggs" - a credit for "Uggie" as "The Dog" (Uggie being the real name of the canine actor playing George's dog) and a credit for "Alan Smithee", a popular pseudonym used by directors who don't want to receive credit on a picture.
The Artist is the first film to win Best Picture at both the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards since Platoon (1986) in 1986.
This film's art direction and production design was inspired by two F.W. Murnau classics, Sunrise (1927) and City Girl (1930).
The Weinstein's second consecutive Best Picture winner; the previous year's Best Picture Winner was The King's Speech (2010).
The painting in the studio (1:10, 1:15) where Peppy blackmails the producer is a mirror-inverted, cropped copy of "Portrait de Madame Alan Bott" by Tamara de Lempicka, 1930.
The film's win for the Academy Award for Best Picture, the year after The King's Speech (2010) marked the first time since 1981-82 that there were two consecutive Best Picture winners which were produced outside the United States (from UK/Australia and France/Belgium, respectively). The first time was with Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982) (both were British productions).
Penelope Ann Miller also played Edna Purviance, a famous silent movie actress, in the 1992 movie Chaplin (1992), the bio-film about one of the most famous and renowned silent film comedians, Charles Chaplin.
The first Academy Award Best Picture winner to be presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio since Marty (1955) won this Oscar fifty-six years earlier.
This film was one of a number of movies that were in competition at the 2012 Academy Awards that was related to France and French culture in some way. The films included The Artist (2011), Hugo (2011), Midnight in Paris (2011), The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Puss in Boots (2011) from the French fairy-tale by Charles Perrault, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, A Cat in Paris (2010), and Bridesmaids (2011) which had an important scene in a French-themed bridal shower. Interestingly though, there was no French film nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award (Oscar) in 2012.
This film was inspired by the work of film directors such as Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, F.W. Murnau and Billy Wilder.
The location used as George Valentin's home was actually owned by Shane Black.
When Valentin goes to the hospital after the house fire, he is placed in room #27. 1927 is the year which his character had his last success and also seems to want to remain in professionally.
Many of the beaded dresses worn in the film by Bérénice Bejo and others were made by Leluxe Clothing.
The character of George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) was based in part on the filmmakers referencing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' book DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS by Jeffrey Vance (Academy Imprints/UC Press, 2008).
The roadster that George Valentin drives in the movie-within-a-movie shown at the start of the film is modern reproduction of a 1920s Bugatti Type 35. In the mid-2000s original Type 35 Bugatti Grand Prix racers were valued at $500,000 to $3.5 million, depending on their originality and condition.
The art department budget for this film was $305,000 according to production designer Robert Gould.
According to the DVD, "The Artist" was completely filmed in Hollywood.
This film was one of a group of films that were in competition at the 2012 Academy Awards that referenced film history. This film and Hugo (2011), which both won five Academy Awards, examined silent cinema; The Help (2011) referenced Gone with the Wind (1939), its Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer evoking Hattie McDaniel from that classic; whilst My Week with Marilyn (2011) with two nominations was about the making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
This film is the tenth black-and-white film to be nominated for the Best Cinematography Academy Award since the discontinuance of the Best Cinematography (black-and-white) Oscar category in 1967. The nine other films were In Cold Blood (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971), Lenny (1974), Raging Bull (1980), Zelig (1983), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005), The White Ribbon (2009) and Schindler's List (1993), the latter being the only one that has won it.
Malcolm McDowell portrays one of the butlers in this film, in a fully silent role. McDowell portrayed a character named Alfie Alperin, who was a famous silent film star who became a studio executive (a role loosely based on Charles Chaplin), in Sunset (1988). In real life, Chaplin was best friends with Douglas Fairbanks, the man who George Valentin was based on. Further, Chaplin lived next door to Fairbanks when Fairbanks lived at Pickfair, his home with Mary Pickford, where Pickford moved after she married Douglas Fairbanks, after living in the house which was used as Peppy's home.
James Cromwell remarked that his performance in the film wasn't really a silent one, as all of his scenes involve dialogue rather than pantomime. He claimed that he played the role like he would any other, speaking his lines out loud.
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French visa # 127108.
The police officer's badge number (783) is the street address for Paramount Studios.
Basil Hoffman, who portrayed the auctioneer in this film, bears more than a strong resemblance to silent film legend Buster Keaton. Hoffman also portrayed comedy writer Herb Lee, who chose to be always silent, in My Favorite Year (1982).
During the sequence in which it becomes clear that George Valentin is becoming a thing of the past, the music refers to the beginning of the 'Saturn' movement from 'The Planets' by Gustav Holst. An apt reference, since in Holst's work Saturn is seen as 'The Bringer of Old Age'.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The first spoken word of the film is 'Cut' whilst the final spoken word is 'Action'.
Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) does not have an audible spoken line - despite being the talking movie star.
The first mostly silent feature film given a major theatrical release since Mel Brooks's Silent Movie (1976) in 1976.

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