When I was a small child, my great-grandfather introduced me to the movie business. It wasn’t in any sort of dramatic way. Mostly, it was looking through his old photo albums at pictures of him standing in the lobby of the Comerford, Ritz, and Gateway Cinemas. Men in suits lined up with movie posters in the background. As my aunt likes to say, “The Boys Club.”

My great-grandfather was in the movie business for many years. He started out as a footman and usher and worked his way up to a managerial position for several movie theaters. He had a great run and looked back on his memories affectionately. But there was one thing that he always used to say that stuck with me: “They don’t make them like that anymore.” Movies.

While I was growing up in a world of push-the-boundaries plot line, special effects, and the beginnings of computer animation, he was looking back at cinematic epics, Technicolor, and the famed movie musical. As a result, I got exposed to a different time.  He and I would watch old films together whenever they aired on TV. I can remember the first one we watched together. The Wizard of Oz with the fabulous Judy Garland. I was in love. Ever since I can remember my Poppy talking about the movies and watching them with him, I was hooked on that silver screen.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of what made me fall in love in the first place. I went to see The Artist.


Trailer #1

The Artist

— MOVIECLIPS.com

 

 

 

Today’s movies tend to assault the senses. Incredibly loud sound effects, special effects out the wazoo, and camera work to make your head spin. Unfortunately, many are thin on story. But then, every now and then, you get a stunner. What I loved most about The Artist is that it told a story – beautifully – without spoken dialogue.

I’ll admit – it took a few scenes to get used to the fact that this was a “silent” film.  It was odd not to hear John Goodman’s booming voice when I saw him on screen, or hear the tap tap tap of heels on pavement. But then again, I didn’t need to. After the first few scenes, I caught on to the magic of the film and just ENJOYED myself. No expectations. No predictions on how the story would go. I was just completely captivated – and that’s what reminded me of why I love movies so much.

It’s easy for a movie to tug at my heartstrings, and with The Artist, it did so in more ways than one.

I’m a movie crier, so if there’s a trailer featuring a running horse or an emotional montage, forget about it. I’m gone. Break out the Kleenex. The Artist was able to make me cry and I didn’t need to hear anything besides the music or alternately, the silence, to be moved. But I left the theater with a sense of hope, having smiled through one of the best scenes in the film (I won’t spoil it for you). Not to mention, The Artist was rare in that it could make me both genuinely laugh and cry all at once. You laugh, you cry…what more could you ask for your price of admission?

But besides the power of what was happening on the screen, I was also moved by the memory of sitting with my great-grandfather, watching The Wizard of Oz. Like the transition from black and white to color as Dorothy enters Oz, The Artist tells its story in a way that’s so unique from what we’re used to. So lively but simple.  It reawakens our senses with just a few lines of spoken dialogue right at the end, reminding us that stories happen everywhere, in every medium.

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