No, I'm not talking about this. Nor am I one of those individuals complaining about 'MTV-style editing' destroying contemporary cinema.*
Recently, it has been reported that Harvey Scissorhands has been looking to buy a silent feature film called THE ARTIST. It's made by the French and is in Black and White. No, wait, don't go! It looks pretty damn cool from the trailer.
The Weinsteins are aiming for a full theatrical release in the US, following a big splash in Cannes. There's been much discussion amongst cinephiles as to whether there's a market for it. After all, does anyone still watch silent movies?
My response is that they do, they're just called something different. Thousands are made every year. They air on VH1, GAC, CMT, MTV, CMC, MAX, etc., they're released in compilation form on DVD and some rack up millions of views on YouTube and Vimeo. Yes, they're music videos.
After all, silent movies were never actually silent. Despite the lack of a sync soundtrack, they were always accompanied by music - a string band, piano player, jazz quartet or whatever. The only essential difference between a silent film and a music video is that the accompanying music has lyrics in the latter and not the former.
I've seen many people in the industry (mainly DOPs) assert that sound killed pictures. As an Aaron Sorkin fan, I disagree with this, but I get their point.
Since I've started making music videos, I've grown to appreciate the restrictions the form places on you. No dialogue need apply, keep your shots short and cut to the rhythm of the song. Little stories played out over three minutes and change. No room for anything extraneous. It's a wonderful discipline
So perhaps the secret to marketing THE ARTIST is for Bob and Harvey to bill it as a 'Feature Length Music Video'. Sounds like a fun night out to me, although I suspect Lady Gaga's people will get around to this before I do.
*This is crap. Ken Russell was using those kind of editing techniques in TOMMY, which predates MTV by six years.