Wednesday, 29 February 2012

L'Artiste completes its incredible journey.

A night at the UK premiere of The Artist, October 2011 at the BFI London Film Festival.

Since that chilly night in a shabby looking, reconstruction paved Leicester Square, the world of film has changed.

Paying the £18 ticket fee was a real pinch, this was my first 'gala' screening at the sold out 800 seater Odeon West End.

I didn't know much about the film, not many people did unless you'd been at Cannes the previous May. It wasn't even getting top billing at the London Film Festival, which was dominated by Shame, We Need to Talk about Kevin and George Clooney's double act The Ides of March and The Descendants.

 I'd heard bits of word of mouth, apparently they'd loved it in France.... all I knew was that it was black and white, and silent, with a group of unknown French actors........

That night my ticket price included the company of those all crowned at the Oscars on Sunday night. But it was the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (  his company Mirimax released Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespere in Love) whose presence and Hollywood power that struck me.

This big, brash load American joked about how ridiculous his company, business partner and brother Bob Weinstein thought he was in fancying buying the distribution rights for The Artist. It was a black and white silent film....... In his words, they thought he'd lost the plot. He was even called to justify his decision to the Board of Directors, claiming he didn't even know his company had a board.  But even back in October, Weinstein was still voicing his hopes of not only landing an Oscar nomination, but winning the Best Film category.

At the time I just loved the ambition and perceived impossibility of such a thought.

As late as Christmas most people had no clue of the Artist and it's impending release date (December 30th). Yet through a rampant marketing campaign that even hit Hereford's railway station Weinstein's dreams materialised with the film receiving 3 of the major Academy Awards (Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor)

With Borderlines already in its first week, many of you will have seen the film and I hope you've left the film delighted. Having been released 2 months ago with a whirlwind of press coverage and hyperbole followed by a resurrection of  hype following its Oscar success I hope audiences haven't felt let down.

Regardless of its merits like it's Oscar rival Hugo, The Artist is a wonderful homage to the early days of film. I have spent all week basking in slight smugness having 'felt' a part of this journey since October. Of course I had nothing to do with it's success other than rattling on about some kooky French film no one wanted to hear about. But the success of The Artist with its celebration of Hollywood, stardom and cinema has been a wonderful thing to witness. 

What is funny is that despite my romantic tribute, it's highly likely no one would have seen or heard of the Artist had it not been for that smug, tubby American man Harvey Weinstein. A man who had no creative impact what so ever. He just liked it and he fancied winning some Oscars. So he did.

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