Time passes in The Artist, just like in every other movie…but the characters in The Artist feel time passing in a more extreme way. Or at least George does.
This awareness of the changing times is reflected in the way the years (1927, 1928, etc.) are displayed on screen as the movie progresses. It's also a technique used in lots of history-based films.
The passage of time is shown in other ways as well, often through a series of scenes spliced together. In the montage that portrays Peppy's rise to fame, we see her name also climb up in the credits, from bit parts like "maid" to leading lady roles.
We know George and Doris' marriage is dissolving through a montage of scenes at their breakfast table. They sit in the same places, silently eating, yet their clothing changes so we know this is happening day after boring day.
All the News That's Fit to Print
The people in this movie might not speak out loud, but the objects (like magazines, billboards and movie posters) certainly do. One of the main symbols in The Artist is also used as a narrative technique: the daily rag. (Check out more in our "Symbols" section.)
The newspaper headlines give us an idea of events that are happening in the bigger world of the movie without showing them to us directly (like when Peppy's movie is doing really well, or when the stock market crashes). In fact, Peppy only finds out about George's brush with (blazing) death through the newspaper.