Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Artist, "Singin' In The Rrain" similarities and 2012 Oscars

The Artist (2011)
Opinion ★★★★
On this day of Academy Awards ceremony, as most movie goers, I have my favorites for the best picture award, and as you probably guessed by the title of this post, The Artist is one of my favorites, along with Hugo, by Martin Scorsese. It seems that 2012 Acadamy Awards may end up being the year of movies paying tribute to the art of filmmaking. You would understand what I mean if you watch both these two movies.

But for now, I will focus on The Artist, a great silent movie made in 2011. Yes, a completely silent movie, and I was very curious how director/writer Michel Hazanavicius will pull this one and be successful. Well, I believe it was a combination of clear love for the golden era of Hollywood of early 20th century that he shares through out the whole movie, with a very captive story line, light at times, dramatic at times, amazing score to compensate for the lack voices, great photography, and most important a very talented Jean Dujardin, for whom I'm very happy, as he is now recognized for his talent, after being snubbed many years by French cinema elite for playing in comedies. Bravo Jean! I wish him well for tonight's Oscars ceremony.
Jean Dujardin & Bénérice Bejo in The Artist (2011)
As a cinephile, I can only hope that the risk taken by the artists, producers involved in The Artist is rewarded with few Oscars tonight.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
The second part of my post is related to an interesting feeling I had watching The Artist, one of déjà-vu at moments, and it's only when I got home that I realized it was because of the similarities with the 1952 classic 'Singin' in the the Rain' with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.

Indeed, both movies stories take place at the time of transition from silent movies, to talking pictures (aka Talkies). In fact some scenes are very close, almost copycat, but I take them as a tribute, not

Similarities between 'The Artist' and 'Singin' in the Rain'
  • Both are about an actor, and Hollywoord in general, transitioning from silent movies to talkies
  • At the beginning of 'The Artist', there is a scene where George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) is taking applause from his public after a screening of his last successful movie, and he prevents his female co-star Constance from being on stage, preferring to play tricks with his co-star dog. In the 1952 classic, Gene Kelly's character Don Lockwood does the same with his co-star Lina Lamont (played by Jean Hagen) – See screenshot from Singin' in the Rain below
  • The complaints backstage of Constance to the director/producer character, played by John Goodman, similar to what Lamont does with producer in Singin' in the Air
  • The love story between the established actor Valentin and the wannabe actress Peppy Miller (played by Bénérice Bejo) character of the new actress, similar to the one between Lookwood and Kathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds). Even the look of Kathy and Peppy are similar   – See screenshots below
  • In both movies, the solution to the transition of the main character career from silent to talkies goes through the musicals – See screenshot from Singin' in the Rain below
  • I couldn't help but noticing a visual similarity of including African tribe in the jungle as one of Valentin's movies, and in Singin' in the Rain, a quick scene (see screenshot below), similar theme is included.

Differences between 'The Artist' and 'Singin' in the Rain'
You might think The Artist is a copycat, well clearly it is not. First 'The Artist' is a silent movie, 'Singin' in the Rain' was a full featured with sound film. Second, except for the end where music is the solution for Valentin, the movie is not a musical, unlike the 1952 classic. The 2011 film is a drama with some comedy scenes, the 1952 movie is a classic musical comedy.

Well, I hope you will have the chance to watch and enjoy both these two great movies in theatre or at home.

The Artist (2011), 100 min, La petite reine
Singin' in the Rain (1952), 103 min, MGM

Gene Kelly (Lockwood) & Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont) in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Jean Dujardin (Valentin) & Missi Pyle (Constance) in The Artist (2011)
Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden) in Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller) & Malcolm McDowell in The Artist (2011)

Donald O'Conner (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds & Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (1952)

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