With The Artist looking a good bet to clean up at the forthcoming Oscars, the multiplexes might be forced to realise that artistic and inventive film may still have a place in popular cosciousness. This can only be a good thing. The fact that a black and white, silent film is showing at Odeons across the country offers a glimmer of hope. For every screen showing The Artist that means one less screen showing Sherlock Holmes 2.
I have long believed that the average audience is severely underestimated by Hollywood and the multiplexes, who still insist that sequels or big budget blockbusters are the only sure way of making any money. This argument is self-fulfilling because most of the time we don’t even get the chance to vote with our feet. If you want to see anything that might challenge you, inspire you or move you to tears, you have to go to one of the clutch of independent cinemas across the country. This fact alone means that, of course, box office fees for these films will never impress. Unless they happen to be fortunate to be acknowledged by the Academy.
Maybe I’ve naive and idealistic (I am), but I think if the people who were responsible for booking these films into cinemas showed a little more faith in the public taste then we’d see more success stories like The Artist start to emerge. And this might cause a knock on effect with the types of films being funded. It’s a myth that artistic, or personal films can not also be entertainment. But it’s unfortunately a myth that Hollywood continues to perpetuate.
While The Artist may not exactly high art, it is still inventive, bold and undoubtedly the work of an artist. It is exactly what we should be showing at the cinemas. A marriage of art and entertainment. In fact it owes a big debt to Hollywood of old. But we could learn a lot from those golden years. How many of todays’ mainstream films will be shown in thirty or forty years? I look forward to the Michael Bay retrospective at the Odeon in years to come.
Bringing things back to me (as I often do) I made a silent film a year or so back called “Smile”. Directed by Ryan Turner, and starring yours truly, it’s nothing like The Artist in terms of scope or style. But hopefully it’s still entertaining. Maybe I’ll make more silent comedies in the future. My hero Charlie Chaplin would certainly approve.
Here’s Smile, for your enjoyment…