With the exception of Charlie Chaplin films like Modern Times, I don't know if I've ever watched an entire silent film. They've been gone for so long that they're rarely thought of. Even the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in Hollywood doesn't actually show silent films. Just off beat films. The international audience is too intelligent and full of expectation to accept melodrama, and that is exactly what the silent film era was about.
Late last autumn The Artist came out in a few theatres. It garnered great reviews but without an audience for the film, quickly left theatres. I may have been the only theatre patron disappointed about this since I had planned on checking it out only to find it wasn't showing anymore. Knocking out competition at the award shows and being the front runner for the Best Picture oscar, it came back to theatres flooding with viewers vying to catch it before Sunday night...including me.
With my new friend Jaime, I went to see The Artist at the historical Vista in Los Feliz after a French brunch at Le Figaro Cafe. Being a lover of old black and white films, I expected to enjoy it but didn't expect it to have this modern or perhaps just timeless relateability. While 98% of the film is silent and it takes place in 1927 with the demise of silent films and the rise of "talkies," it addresses the loss of identity and how one gets over their pride when everything is taken from them and everyone around them is moving on. These moments in our lives are always the most painful. Losing who you thought you were, who everyone saw you as and what you spent your life investing yourself into is devestating. Starting anew without a clue of how to go about that or what that you will look like is more than a little daunting. It takes absolute faith. It takes putting your pride aside and leaping into the abyss with courage you didn't know could be mustered up.
When I left acting a few years ago after placing my entire identity into that art, I had no idea what my life was going to be like. I thought my existance would lack excitement if I didn't have the glamorous and adventurous career of an actress. By letting it go, I was actually able to discover who I was and invite the beauty of the unknown inside. My life was no longer planned out by me and that was freeing. I still didn't expect much, but I was willing to take steps toward something else. A few years later I'm able to see how letting go of one dream and identity has lead to a much fuller life. I graduated college, travelled all over the world and began a promising writing career. Just like George Valentin in The Artist, I let go of the tight grip on how I thought my life was supposed to be and who I believed I needed to be and was gifted with so much more. Freeing ourselves from our own expectations is how we find our true voice.