Study Guide

The Artist Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

GEORGE: I won't talk! I won't say a word!

Even torture can't make George speak. This line is from a scene in his film, but it foreshadows his later silence and makes us ask, where's the line between loyalty and stubbornness?

In A German Affair, George's character speaks with another actor, but they hold their hands up in front of their mouths so that no one else can read their lips.

Without the visual cues or the inter-titles, we guess it's pretty easy to tell secrets in a silent film.

Peppy writes "Thank You" on George's dressing room mirror, with the same pencil he uses later to draw on her beauty spot.

Written words, which have a trace that lingers, are sometimes more powerful than spoken ones.

DORIS: We have to talk, George. Why do you refuse to talk?

If only Doris knew that we were all wondering the same thing.

NEWSPAPER: Young, Pretty and Talking! […] Peppy Miller, the sound of love! ANOTHER NEWSPAPER: "Talkies are not serious" for George Valentin

Even the newspapers are in dialogue, but communicating still isn't George's thing.

DORIS (As written in her note to George): It's over, George. You have two weeks to collect your souvenirs together and get out of the house.

To make it worse, the note is written on the back of one of George's defaced promo headshots.

When George is checking out the tux in the shop window near the end of the movie, a police officer tries talking to him but George can't hear anything he's saying, or even read his lips.

Talk about a breakdown of communication. The fact that we (the viewers) also can't read the cop's lips makes George seem a little less crazy.

PEPPY: I won't work anymore. It's either him or me.

ZIMMER: [silence, confused…]

PEPPY: What I mean is, it's him and me! Or it's neither of us!

ZIMMER: [silence, staring…]

PEPPY: Hey, I'm blackmailing you! Get it?

Peppy may be talking nonsense, but she stands her ground and gets what she wants. Words are pretty powerful…if you know how to use 'em.

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