x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Visionary cinema

The history of cinema proves a treasure trove for Oscar winners.

Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony will go down in history as one of the most predictable ever. There were virtually no shocks; the two films that were expected to sweep the board duly did so. And what is less surprising than Meryl Streep nabbing yet another Oscar for her already crowded mantle?

Far more interesting, however, is the nature of the two films that received the acclaim of the Academy. One, The Artist, is a silent film; the other, Hugo, is a film with a silent film twist.

While the Academy usually shuns commercial films in favour of more "worthy" fare, that has not always resulted in worthy winners.

And yet, in an age when so many films are sequels or remakes, where originality has been sacrificed in favour of formula, and where the movie experience often results in sensory overload of mindless action, it is heartening that the two big winners looked to the past and found inspiration.

The Artist may be a silent movie, but it is worlds away from the slapstick nature of early Charlie Chaplin. And Hugo, while acknowledging the history of cinema, does so while incorporating the most modern of techniques and editing styles.

Don't expect remakes and sequels to go away in 2012. But the best of 2011 showed that you can delve into the past, and still come up with wonderfully original ideas.