The new movie The Artist about just such a cycle. Set in the silent film era (and itself a silent movie, with no dialogue at all) the story follows a dashing romantic leading man George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who on the red carpet one day encounters a female fan Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who suddenly captures the attention of the press. She then becomes an actress in her own right, at first riding his coattails and enjoying a great deal of success. But then his fortunes start falling at the same time hers takes off. The movie is a melodrama romance of sorts that, in addition to being silent, is in black-and-whilte in order to heighten the sense that we’re stepping back in time.
The first poster featured a wonderfully monochromatic image of the two main characters looking at each other with passion in their eyes. At the top of the poster is an acknowledgement of its Cannes win for Best Actor and at the bottom is the only splash of color to be seen, the red that’s part of the title treatment.
The movie’s first trailer starts off by letting us know we’re in Hollywood in 1927 and shows us Valentin performing for an audience. He has a run in on the red carpet with an adoring female fan and the two become something of a tabloid item, much to the chagrin of his wife. We see the two performing together until there’s obviously some sort of change of fortunes and his star diminishes while hers ascends.
The trailer shows an awful lot of the film’s story arc, basically taking us through the high points of the entire plot. I’m sure there are grace notes that make the film more interesting but we get quite a lot spoiled here I’m guessing.
That being said it shows a movie that’s quite intriguing. If nothing else it makes you want to see whether or not a silent movie can still be pulled off, whether the performances of the actors can overcome the fact that they can’t speak to the audience.
The official website for the movie opens by playing the trailer and, as I often say, it’s well worth rewatching.
After that the first section of content is “About” which has a pretty good Synopsis of the film’s story as well as an About the Production section that goes into multiple areas of how and why the film was made.
“Video” just has the one trailer while “Photos” has by my count 20 stills from the film.
You can learn more about the actors and filmmakers in the “Cast and Crew” section and then read some of the reviews – including links – that have been published about it already, mostly based on festival screenings.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There may have been a couple TV spots I saw but that’s about it and I honestly can’t remember if that actually happened or not.
Media and Publicity
The movie first garnered some serious accolades at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it wowed audiences and started some serious word of mouth buzz. But the fact that the industry audience there loved it didn’t necessarily translate into Oscar worthiness (Los Angeles Times, 8/28/11) since the movie had such a starkly different look and feel from anything else out there. It would later also appear at the Telluride Film Festival to additional positive word of mouth, at the Hamptons International Film Festival where it won the Audience Award (Hollywood Reporter, 10/16/11) and at AFI Fest where it was pegged (LAT, 10/18/11) as one of the top films appearing there.
There was also some non-festival press such as this story (New York Times, 10/19/11) that talked about how it sought to recapture the Hollywood of yesteryear and how the movie worked its way through development before finally being picked up by Miramax. Development would continue to be a theme in further stories like this one (LAT, 11/13/11) that talked about bringing the cast on board such a high-concept movie.
There’s a lot to like about this campaign but the strongest element, and the one on which its success or failure largely depends, is the buzz that came out of festival screenings. If any amount of that can spread beyond those circles and find anyone who wasn’t confused and annoyed by trailers without any dialogue then there could be some level of success for the movie. If not it will go down as another one of those that couldn’t capitalize on early raves, something that’s far too often the case.