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The most popular French film abroad has no French spoken in the film.
French films are not only for the French. In the past decade they have gained popularity around the world, especially in English-speaking countries such as America and England. However, the French film that has been most popular abroad is a silent film, The Artist, so no French dialogue is featured. The Artist is a comedy and romance movie about an old silent film actor who falls in love with a young dancer at the time when the industry was moving toward “talkies”.
In America, The Artist is the highest grossing French film of all time. It was nominated for both Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It was able to outshine American films at the Golden Globes by being nominated for more awards than any other film that year, and won in three out of the six categories. It also won five out of the ten Academy Awards it was nominated for, making Jean Dujardin the first French actor to win Best Actor. In England, The Artist was nominated for twelve BAFTA’s, more than any other films that year, and won seven of them.
It is possible that this success is due to the lack of language barrier in the film. Only 23% of the UK population speak French, and that number lessens to fewer than 1% in America, which can make the average French film an intimidating leisure activity for native English speakers. Because The Artist is a silent film, it is viewed the same way regardless of the audience’s language, allowing everyone to connect with the film the same way.