by FIONA PLEASANCE
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve clicked on a link, and now there’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. “Oh no,” you sigh, “not another bloody article about those retro-juggernauts, The Artist (2011) and Hugo (2011) and what it all means for Hollywood. That’s so last month!”
Well, perhaps. But as a teacher of film history, I hope that I can offer a slightly different perspective on the films as far as their historical accuracy and their contemporary significance are concerned.
Let’s start with The Artist which, having fictional characters at its heart, brings fewer concerns with it. George Valentin, Peppy Miller and Kinograph Studios never existed, but the film takes place at one of the most interesting and extensively documented periods in cinema history. The conversion process from silent to sound cinema made – and, yes, broke – a number of careers, so it encompasses many elements which Hollywood itself loves so much, particularly meteoric rises and dramatic falls from grace.