Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

At The Movies

The Artist

Th ArtistWho would’ve thought a black-and-white silent French film would be entertaining in this day and age? Because I am a movie lover, and I trust the Motion Picture Academy’s taste in quality films (even though I may not agree with their choice on Best Picture), I was willing to take a chance and pay full-blown theater admission to see this year’s Oscar winner, The Artist.

Fabulous, fabulous! A delight and truly a clever and enjoyable film that is beyond memorable. It is one for the whole family—clean and no bad language—and it is best seen on a big screen if you are able to find it near you.

Initially, it felt a bit strange watching the screen with no color or dialogue, but the use of lilting music and the wonderful acting from Jean Dujardin (who won the Oscar for Best Actor) and Berenice Bejo quickly makes up for it. The story begins in the late ’20s with silent movie star George Valentin (played by Dujardin) at the pinnacle of his career. As crowds of adoring fans meet him outside the theater, young beautiful admirer Peppy Miller (played by Bejo) has the good fortune of being singled out by George. She gets her picture in the newspapers posing with her favorite star, and this brief fifteen minutes of fame is enough to encourage her to pursue a career as an actress.

The next day, she reports to the studio, auditions for a position as an extra in George’s next film, and wins the part. She meets him again on set and sparks fly—she is a beautiful dancer and he is inspired by her talent. When they finally get the opportunity to act together, George is so smitten that he can’t concentrate on his role and loses sense of everything else around him, requiring the director to refilm the scene over and over. This is one of the most moving moments in the film, combining the richness of comedy, melodrama, and romance. Peppy feels the connection with George too, and we have a great love story on our hands.

As the years pass, Peppy’s career develops, but George’s begins to stall. With the introduction of sound to motion pictures, the tide of filmmaking begins to change. George scoffs at the idea of “talkies” but is warned by the studio boss (played by John Goodman) that this new technology is the way of the future. Peppy is chosen as one of the new sound stars while George is out on his own.

That night George has a dream in which he is in his dressing room and experiences hearing sound for the first time. As he sets his glass on the table, the clink startles him, the clock begins to ticks, the door creaks, sending him into hysterics, and yet he is mute. It is a haunting but perfect metaphor for this sudden

and unexpected turn in his life. A new era has been ushered in, an era that is exciting to everyone in the world except for George Valentin. For him, sound is confusing and confounding, an enemy to be defeated.

George retaliates against the studio’s decision by digging into his savings and producing his own silent film, which happens to open on the same weekend as Peppy’s first talking feature. While his movie flops, hers is an instant success, propelling her to stardom. George now finds himself broke and all but forgotten. He drinks excessively, sells off all of his belongings (which Peppy secretly buys at auction), and eventually moves into an apartment after his wife forces him out of their home. In a fit of total despair, he burns all of his movies, catching his entire apartment on fire, but at the last minute he retrieves one roll of film, risking his life in the process.

While things go from bad to worse for George, Peppy’s life is everything she has dreamed—and yet there is something missing. She still thinks of George and their brief connection years ago when they worked together—he a huge movie star and she just an extra. She secretly follows George, saddened by his reduced state. When she learns of his narrow brush with the apartment fire, she rushes to his hospital bedside and brings him to her lush mansion to recover. Hoping to restore his career, she uses her influence with the studio and negotiates a film project where she and George can star together. But George will not agree. He is vehemently opposed to sound.

I won’t give away any more, other than to say that George has to hit rock bottom before he can accept Peppy’s love and find a way to be happy in this new world of talking films. In case you’re wondering what movie George clambered through the fire to retrieve, you may be surprised to know it was the outtakes with Peppy in her first role as an extra. Again, another metaphor for life—nothing in the past is worth saving or holding on to other than the hope of a better future. Despite George’s failures, he never gave up on the hope of a future with that budding actress who stole his heart so many years ago.

There are many other sweet and tender moments in this film, including George’s sidekick, a cute little dog, a hilarious butler (played by James Cromwell), and the humor of melodrama that was so common in silent films. Take a chance and give this wonderful little movie your full attention. Don’t be like George, resisting something new and different (like a black-and-white silent French film), and deny yourself the pleasure of a great movie. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!