Last year, a silent film wowed the Cannes film festival, and look where that ended up? This year, the BFI’s new restoration of Hitchcock’s 1927 film The Ring will be premiered at the festival – so the delegates at the film industry’s most glamorous get-together will be the first to see its full splendour.
When the film screens at the Hackney Empire in July, it will have a newly commissioned live score by Soweto Kinch. That screening will also be streamed online so people around the country can join in the sense of occasion. The Cannes crowd are in for a treat too, though: the festival screening will be a gala in itself, taking the form of a ciné-concert with London’s own Stephen Horne providing the music.
Obviously one is rather tired of annual trip to the Croisette, but this year we may make an exception, if only to see what the world’s cinema press make of a work that was heralded on its initial release as: “the most magnificent British film ever made”.
As far as I know, The Artist (2011) is the first silent film ever to be placed in competition for the Palme d’Or. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s fair to say that silent film fans will take a keener interest than usual in the Cannes judging this year. There has been a lot of early buzz about The Artist, not least because it was swiftly snapped up and flaunted around town by the Weinstein Company. But then again, some of the other films in the competition have earned rave reviews already: notably Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Winner or not, The Artist is the most high-profile modern silent in a long, long time and we’re all keen to see it, to find out whether it lives up to the hype, and whether it’s a sensitive tribute to an era of exquisite film-making, or a heavy-handed pastiche.
To this end, I’ve pulled together as many reviews from Cannes as I can find so in the long wait for The Artist to hit UK cinemas we can amuse ourselves by forming our own opinions. We can base this a little on what the critics say, and mostly, of course, on our own preconceptions springing from the extraordinarily beautiful trailer: