The Artist, obviously, is a stunning, heartfelt, sweet-natured, etc, etc. I won’t repeat the usual platitudes – if you don’t already know how good The Artist is, come back to me when you’ve read the rest of the internet first. It is utterly lovely.
Unfortunately, it appears there is a single detractor to this truism: veteran actress Kim Novak, who felt it her duty to spend actual cash money on a full-page advert in trade rage Variety on the use of a single piece of music from the classic 1958 Hitchcock film Vertigo, in which she starred. Scene d’Amour by Bernard Hermann is an impossibly beautiful piece of music, used to devastating, tear-wrenching effect in The Artist‘s climax. Kim Novak disagrees.
“I WANT TO REPORT A RAPE,” Novak begins, definitely not going over the top with that analogy. In further overuse of both capital letters and poorly-chosen metaphors, Ms Novak feels “AS IF MY BODY – OR, AT LEAST, MY BODY OF WORK – HAS BEEN VIOLATED”. (Thank goodness for that caveat, eh?) She continues to complain that the use of the music was “cheating” and “MORALLY WRONG”, and that she is “THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SPEAK NOW”.
I’m not even going to get into the bombastically insensitive use of the word rape in order to have a bit of a moan about a film you didn’t like – as the AV club put it, the word appears to have “evolved from meaning ‘violent, forced sexual intercourse’ to its more modern definition as ‘something kind of upsetting that happens to famous people.’”
But what really gets my goat is how Kim is so enraged over ‘stealing’ a piece of music which is, itself, hugely derivative. Anyone who knows Bernard Hermann’s classic Vertigo score will know that it borrows heavily - or, to put it in Novak’s elegant phrasing, ‘rapes’ – from Richard Wagner’s epic Tristan & Isolde opera (specifically the Liebstod aria). And why not? Great artists, and all that.
I’d perhaps understand her grievances more if director Michel Hazanavicius had remixed Bernard Hermann’s score into a filthy bass-heavy dubstep mashup. As it stands, she comes across as a slightly dotty, and highly self-righteous, old luvvie. Well, there’s a place for people like that.