Title: The Artist (2011)
BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
Video: 1080p / AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Run time: 101 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Region Coding: Region Free
Jean Dujardin as George Valentin
Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller
John Goodman as Al Zimmer
James Cromwell as Clifton
Penelope Ann Miller as Doris
Missi Pyle as Constance
Beth Grant as Peppy's Maid
Ed Lauter as The Butler
Joel Murray as Policeman Fire
Bitsie Tulloch as Norma
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
French director Michel Hazanavicius is not someone I personally knew anything about until I started reading buzz about The Artist around six months or so ago. Once I learned that the man had been making feature films since 1999 I decided that The Artist was worth seeing and the winning of five Oscars including Best Picture also helped cement that decision.
The year is 1927 and George Valentin is the most renowned silent film star in Hollywood. For years he has made silent films and has been the main reason why people attend them. All across the world people know who he is and what films he has starred in, but little does he know that is life will soon change. It is ironic that he meets Peppy Miller at about the same time his life will change forever. With the addition of the microphone movie studios now have the ability to capture sound as well as visuals on film and they are to known as "talkies."
As talkies become more popular and moviegoers find themselves flocking to Peppy's captivating voice and acting George feels that silent films are becoming a lost art. He finds himself discouraged and distraught when Kinograph is forced to let him go because he refuses to endorse talkies. He also accidentally discovers that the much younger Peppy has let this new found fame go to her head in much the same way as it happened to him years earlier. George also seems to be losing his connection to his wife Doris, which doesn't help his self esteem one bit.
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929 George is nearly broke after choosing to direct, produce, and star in his own silent film, which flops of course. He continues to have trouble with his wife and begins to slip into depression. Only one person has the power to help him, but will he understand how to accept that help? Will George have the courage to stand up to his own demons of doubt and self pity before it's too late?
I found myself enthralled with The Artist from beginning to end. I thought that I might not like it since it is virtually a silent film, but I found myself so caught up in the qualities of the characters that the silence completely escaped my thought. This one is definitely worth owning, but if you're unsure about the silent nature of the film it would be wise to give it a rental first. Due to some intense moments this one is probably not suitable for younger children.
Framed in the original Academy ratio of 1.33:1 The Artist looks incredibly vivid. The black and white nature of the presentation is nearly perfect as contrast levels are never too low or high. There is a moderate amount of grain that does manage to remain consistent even in the dimmer scenes. My sole complaint is that many of the shots are extremely soft. I don't personally have a problem with the softness, but I did feel as if some scenes were made much softer that others and those were slightly distracting in my opinion. On the plus side there is no indication of digital manipulation, which makes for an extremely natural looking presentation to say the least. My own screen captures for The Artist can be found below.
Since The Artist is essentially a silent film one would might think that the audio is not that important, but that is certainly far from the truth here. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track the main component to this mix is the film's musical score, which is of course used to convey the tone and mood of a given scene. I can say without hesitation that the score is absolutely perfect in terms of clarity and fidelity and there are even a few hints of some bass thrown into the LFE. I never felt overpowered by the score either, which is another concern I had before watching the film. There are also a few other audible effects that fit right in that never cause any issues whatsoever. This is may not be a memorable mix, but it works perfectly for this type of presentation.
The Artist comes to Blu-ray with a healthy selection of supplements, which is something you'd expect from the Best Picture winner. First up is a 21 minute making-of feature that examines how the film compares to the way Hollywood was in the late '20s and early '30s. Next, is a 45 minute Q & A with most of the cast as well as his the director and producer. Next is a five minute look at the shooting locations. The following feature is a four part look at the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film that includes Production Design, Cinematography, Costumes and The Composer. Finally, we are given a two minute blooper reel, in silence of course. There is also an Ultraviolet Digital Copy code of the film included.
Final Word: A Purchase For Fans