Silence is Golden

It's been a very satisfying weekend, entertainment-wise. That's thanks in no small part to two movies - one selected from the Netflix queue to watch at home, and one I went to see in the theater. One was animated, and one was live-action. One was in color, and one was in black and white. One had a rather sad, poignant ending, and one ended on a decidedly cheerful note. That makes it sound like they couldn't be more different, but there was one important aspect that the two of them shared: Neither one had more than a dozen words of dialogue. Since there is a barely a spoken word between them, both films have to rely heavily on their scores, and both are lovely.

The first was The Illusionist. There are multiple movies with that title, but this is the one from 2010 that comes from the same team that made the supremely underrated The Triplets of Belleville. This movie was just as beautiful.

It tells the melancholy tale of a stage magician whose art is falling out of favor with the public to make way for rock and roll. A young barmaid is enchanted by his tricks, however, and she accompanies him when he leaves her little village. Her belief in the wonder he spins inspires him to keep trying, but his determination to please her with expensive gifts leads to trouble, as does her inevitable transition into more mature interests.

And speaking of people whose work has fallen out of favor with the public, I went to see The Artist, which charts the downfall of a silent film star who is left behind when the talkies make their debut.

As his star falls, the ingenue he helped become established in Hollywood (sorry, Hollywoodland) becomes more and more famous. It's a romantic, often hilarious film, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it rewarded, come Oscar season.

The Illusionist: A-
The Artist: A


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