Speaking in The Artist‘s promotional leaflet at Cannes Film Festival, screenwriter Michael Hazanvicius commented on whether the screenplay was written in the same way as a talkie:
Yes and no. Yes because I didn’t alter the way I work, the only difference being that at a given point, contrarily to what I normally do, I didn’t write down the dialogues. And no because, I didn’t stop during writing to ask myself pure directorial questions: how to tell this story knowing it is not possible to insert intertitles every twenty seconds? If there are too many new developments, if the range is too wide, too many characters, a complex plot, you just can’t do it visually.
That was the complexity. I watched and re-watched many silent fi lms [sic] to try to assimilate the rules of the form, to understand what I was going to be confronted with. I quickly observed that as soon as the story starts to grow unclear, you lose interest. It’s an unforgiving format, particularly today.
People didn’t have too many points of reference at that time, they took the fi lms [sic] that were given to them. But habits have changed today, codes have changed. The challenge was to determine the acting range; after that it was quite simple. What was also complicated was to keep telling myself that this project was worth it, that it could be completed.
The fi lm [sic] goes so much against current trends, almost anachronistic. We were right in the middle of the AVATAR craze, in full 3D mania. It was as if I was at the whell [sic] of a 2CV with Formula One cars roaring around me!
And whether he wrote George and Peppy with actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in mind:
Yes, but also keeping in mind the fact they could have refused, particularly with a project like this. Anyway, when I gave Jean the screenplay I wasn’t sure of anything at all. I told him: [sic] ”I’d like it if you’d do it but don’t feel you have to! If you don’t feel like it, that’s no problem.” He read it very quickly in the train that was taking him to the south of France and called me when he got there to tell me he loved it and wanted to be part of it!
It took, in total, fourth months for Hazanvicius to write the screenplay. Mr. Robinson Crusoe‘s Douglas Fairbanks was a large influence, due to his significance within the silent film industry. The screenplay begins as such:
The Artist screenplay is now available to read from Deadline.