Mike Lasalle

Dick Meister: The artistry of silence in film


Dick Meister is a long-time San Francisco writer. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

I didn't get much sleep last night. I was kept awake thinking of a film – "The Artist" – I had just seen. It stands out, even in the harsh light of day, as one of the very best of the many movies, silent and sound movies alike, that I've watched over the past 60 years. (Read the Guardian's take on the film here.)

Although the widely-acclaimed movie was made this year, "The Artist" is a silent film, except for an excellent music soundtrack that sounds like the live orchestral music that accompanied major silent films. That practice ended, of course, with the coming of talkies.

That's the movie's major theme, the end of the silents – a theme it handles even better than other excellent films covering the topic, such as "Singin' in the Rain." I won't go beyond noting the theme, for fear of disclosing the plot, but, believe me, it's a very well-plotted and well-acted theme. Read more »