Silence Speaks Louder Than Words at the BAFTAs

Feb 14th, 2012 | By | Category: London News


In 1927 Hollywood released a film called The Jazz Singer, the first feature length picture to make use of a technical revolution in filmmaking, which would shake the foundations of the Studio System. It was the first film to use synchronized dialogue, and for many stars of the silent era that relied on overwrought facial expressions to convey drama, it signaled the end of their careers as they were revealed to have heavy accents or voices unsuitable for screen. The last silent film was made in 1935 and since then, silence in cinema has been the mainstay of avant garde projects, that is, until last year, when The Artist, a film starring actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, then unknowns in the UK, which harks back to the Golden era of Hollywood, with a story that involves the romance, drama and intrigue of the transition from silent to sound using almost entirely no sound itself.


The Artist is a rare beast, a sleeper hit that has captured peoples imaginations and proved to have widespread appeal, and this was made most apparent at last night’s BAFTA awards, where the film had 12 nominations and swept the board with 7 wins, the most of any film of the night. It bodes well for Oscar glory and it’s a curiously cyclical turn of events that a stylistic technique, which was once so derided for being outmoded is now the flavour of the day due to a mix of nostalgia and the need for more novelty in films. Could this see a slew of actors returning to hammy facial contortions? One can only hope.


Another film to win big was The Iron Lady, portraying Britain’s first female Prime Minister as played by the inimitable Meryl Streep. Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure, a woman who made the suits in Parliament quiver in fear and wielded her handbag like a gavel; and a pariah who earnt as much of a reputation for taking away free school milk as she did for starting the Falklands War; but perhaps in Streep’s award-winning, subtlety and style the history books will be revised with a decidedly rosier tint.


If you would like to celebrate The Artist’s BAFTA awards, you can watch it in style in one of London’s elegant and funky cinemas which handily have fab hotels just a short walk away, Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema offers cocktails whilst you watch and comfy sofas, and if you stay in the Abbey Court Hotel just a few minutes walk away, you can enjoy Hollywood glamour in four-poster beds and antique features. The Renoir Cinema is an elegant old-school cinema in Bayswater and the Orchard Hotel offers cheap, welcoming accommodation so that you don’t have to scrimp on style whilst you save. The Odeon in Leicester Square is a modern, flashier multiplex cinema, but film premieres are held there, so there is a chance you could end up celeb spotting on the sly. Stay at the Radisson Edwardian Leicester Square for elegant contemporary chic, worthy of a modern movie star. If you want to see where Margaret Thatcher ruled with her be-ringed iron fist, you can visit the Houses of Parliament then stay in the stately Royal Horseguards hotel very close by, the Prime Minister herself wouldn’t have settled for anything less.

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