A picture really is worth a thousand words.
Tonight I saw “The Artist”, a feature film getting a lot of buzz. It just won three Golden Globe including best film (musical or comedy) and some say it deserves an Oscar for Best Picture. I wouldn’t quite go that far but it is a very good film.
What’s makes “The Artist” especially remarkable is that it’s a black and white silent film. The soundtrack consists almost entirely of music and sound effects. On the rare occasion when characters do speak their dialogue is written out on old-timey title cards, just like a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton film. I know that sounds awful but trust me, it works. In a way the absence of dialogue actually improves the film because all of the other storytelling devices have to work harder to pick up the slack. The actions have to be clearer, the acting more expressive, the editing sharper, and being forced to say everything with pictures alone makes for some very creative and compelling visuals.
As an illustrator I found “The Artist” to be a powerful reminder that a tremendous amount can be said simply and elegantly with pictures alone. The right poses, expressions, and body language can communicate great depth and feeling without saying a single word. The movie really inspired me to think more deeply about the power of my drawings to communicate, entertain, and even to move people. The next time I sit down to draw the film will still be reverberating in my mind, challenging me to think harder about how I can say more with my drawings.
If, like me, you make your living drawing pictures then you absolutely must see this film. Study it. Replay it in your mind. Especially if you work in storyboards, comics, animation, or other storytelling mediums.
Here’s the official trailer:
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