The Artistry of The Artist

Spoiler Alert: Don't read this review if you haven't seen the movie yet (unless you're the type that reads the book before the movie comes out!)

My first reaction was tinged with a small bit of disappointment. The hype had lead me to anticipate a great film experience. So much of the film relied on the nostalgia of old time silent films, along with its melodramatic theme, that I was left with a pleasant but unsatisfying feeling. I thought how much better the film might have been if Woody Allen had directed it! But, the unconscious picked up on clues that during the night reveal the mastery of this (indeed) great film. What makes this movie work is precisely what it isn't. When you expect the leading man to have a torrid love affair with the (ultimately) leading lady, nothing happens! As from a few avuncular hugs and a twinkle in Peppy's eyes, there is no sex, none, nada! She admires him and he adores her, but words fail to bring them together. He is the archetype of (unrealized) masculinity - handsome, charming, a showman - a caricature of the young hero, and she is the archetypal anima figure. What better theme to play out this drama than a setting built on projection, cinematic and psychological. (Recall the scene where he stands before the projector and his shadow walks off the screen.) Fate brings him to attempt suicide before he can accept her love, not pity on his part and not codependency on hers. It is she who provides the solution that brings them together. Of course, this is what the anima does best - relates. In this case, it is (the sacred) dance that offers them union. It its breathy conclusion, the film closes with a dance scene that simulates coitus, but this love transcends the mundane and brings us to the altar where the royal marriage is performed for the whole world to see and appreciate.

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