France’s Leading Voices Hail Oscar Success of "The Artist"
Following the annual Academy Awards ceremony on February 26 that delivered five awards to the French film "The Artist," several prominent figures in France from all sides of the political arena have expressed high praise for the movie and its success.
President Nicolas Sarkozy offered his congratulations, saying that the film’s success demonstrates the "exceptional vitality" of the French movie business, and the "success of policymaking by the public authorities to encourage excellence in this great French industry." Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, likewise expressed his "immense joy" at the film’s recognition at the world’s pre-eminent film awards event.
- Jean Dujardin stars in “The Artist,” the story of a 1920s Hollywood star.
"The Artist" swept many of the Oscar’s most coveted categories, including Best Picture. Jean Dujardin, the film’s star, was named Best Actor, in what was his first nomination for the award. Michel Hazanavicius received the prize for Best Director, his first as well. Two other Oscars were bestowed on the film for Best Costume Design and Best Original Music Score.
A silent film set in the golden age of 1920s Hollywood, "The Artist" features George Valentin, an established leading man who faces an uncertain future with the rise of the "talkies," or movies with sound, a technical development in filmmaking that became a standard feature of movies during the 1930s.
The film’s portrayal of golden-age Hollywood moviemaking was a deliberate choice for the directorial staff. Producer Thomas Langmann explained that the team had from the beginning wanted to "write a declaration of love to American cinema." But, he added, "we had no idea that, in return, we would have the chance to get a taste of the American Dream."
In what has made for extremely coverage of the awards season, France’s media have been buzzing with stories on "The Artist." In a recent multi-page spread in the popular Paris Match magazine, Mr. Dujardin’s wife, Alexandra Lamy, said that the French public had shown a groundswell of general support for the film’s Oscar nomination.
"They encourage Jean, they want him to win for them, for France. You would think we were back in 1998," said Ms. Lamy, a reference to the World Cup victory of the French national soccer team, a moment that has since taken on a character of some significance and has provided a rallying point for France.
Mr. Dujardin was clearly moved during his effusive acceptance speech, in which he mixed shouts for joy in both French and English. "I love your country," he said at one point, referring to the United States. Aside from the Oscars, "The Artist" has received plaudits from many of the leading film awards bodies around the world. The movie has won six Césars (France), one Goya (Spain), three Golden Globes (United States) and seven BAFTAs (UK).