The Artist (film)
|Directed by||Michel Hazanavicius|
|Written by||Michel Hazanavicius|
|Produced by||Thomas Langmann|
|Music by||Ludovic Bource|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. France|
|Box office||$133.4 million|
The Artist is a 2011 French[nb 1] comedy-drama film[nb 2] in the style of a black-and-white silent film or part-talkie. The film was written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, produced by Thomas Langmann and stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The story takes place in Hollywood, between 1927 and 1932, and focuses on the relationship between a rising young actress and an older silent film star as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by the "talkies".
The Artist received widespread critical acclaim and won many accolades. Dujardin won Best Actor at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. The film was nominated for six Golden Globes, the most of any 2011 film, and won three: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score, and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dujardin. In January 2012, the film was nominated for twelve BAFTAs, the most of any film from 2011, and won seven, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor for Dujardin, and Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius.
It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director for Hazanavicius, and Best Actor for Dujardin, making him the first French actor ever to win in this category. It was also the first French-produced film to win Best Picture, and the first mainly silent film to win since 1927's Wings won at the 1st Academy Awards in 1929. It was also the first film presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio to win since 1953's From Here to Eternity. Additionally, it was the first black-and-white film to win since 1993's Schindler's List, though the latter contained limited colour sequences; it was the first 100% black-and-white film to win since 1960's The Apartment.
In France it was nominated for ten César Awards, winning six, including Best Film, Best Director for Hazanavicius and Best Actress for Bejo. The Artist has received more awards than any other French film.
In 1927, silent film star George Valentin is posing for pictures outside the premiere of his latest hit film when a young woman, Peppy Miller, accidentally bumps into him. Valentin reacts with humor to the accident and shows off with Peppy for the cameras. The next day, Peppy finds herself on the front page of Variety with the headline "Who's That Girl?" Later, Peppy capitalizes on the headline by auditioning as a dancer and is spotted by Valentin, who insists that she have a part in Kinograph Studios' next production, despite objections from studio boss Al Zimmer. While performing a scene in which they dance together, Valentin and Peppy show great chemistry. With a little guidance from Valentin, who draws a beauty spot on her after finding her in his dressing room, Peppy slowly rises through the industry, earning more prominent starring roles.
Two years later, Zimmer announces the end of production of silent films at Kinograph Studios, but Valentin is dismissive, insisting that sound is just a fad. In a dream, Valentin begins hearing sounds from his environment (as does the audience), but cannot speak himself, then wakes up in a sweat. He decides to produce and direct his own silent film, Tears of Love, financing it himself. The film opens on the same day as Peppy's new sound film Beauty Spot and the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Valentin's only chance of avoiding bankruptcy is for his film to be a hit. Unfortunately, audiences flock to Peppy's film instead, while only a few people (including Peppy herself) attend Valentin's. With Valentin ruined, his wife, Doris, kicks him out, and he moves into an apartment with his valet/chauffeur, Clifton, and his dog. Peppy goes on to become a major Hollywood star.
Later, the bankrupt Valentin is forced to auction off all of his personal effects, and after realizing he has not paid loyal Clifton in over a year, gives him the car and fires him, telling him to get another job. Depressed and drunk, Valentin angrily sets a match to his private collection of his earlier films. As the nitrate film quickly blazes out of control, he is overwhelmed by the smoke and passes out inside the burning house, still clutching a single film canister. However, Valentin's dog attracts the help of a nearby policeman, and after being rescued, Valentin is hospitalized for injuries suffered in the fire. Peppy visits the hospital and discovers that the film he rescued is the one with them dancing together. She asks for him to be moved to her house to recuperate. Valentin awakens in a bed at her house to find that Clifton is now working for Peppy. Valentin seems to remain dismissive of Peppy having taken him in, prompting Clifton to remind Valentin of his changing luck.
Peppy insists to Zimmer that Valentin co-star in her next film, threatening to quit Kinograph if Zimmer does not agree to her terms. After Valentin learns to his dismay that Peppy had purchased all his auctioned effects, he returns in despair to his burnt-out apartment. Peppy arrives, panicked, and finds that Valentin is about to attempt suicide with a handgun. Peppy tells him she only wanted to help him. They embrace and Valentin tells her it's no use; no one wants to hear him speak. Remembering Valentin's superb dancing ability, Peppy persuades Zimmer to let them make a musical together.
Now the audience hears sound for the second time, as the film starts rolling for a dance scene with Peppy and Valentin and their tap-dancing can be heard. Once the choreography is complete, the two dancers are heard panting. The director of the musical calls out audibly, "Cut!" to which Zimmer adds: "Perfect. Beautiful. Could you give me just one more?" Valentin, in his only audible line, replies "With pleasure," revealing a French accent. The camera then pulls back to the sounds of the film crew as they prepare to shoot another take.
- Jean Dujardin as George Valentin
- Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller
- Uggie as the dog, Jack
- John Goodman as Al Zimmer
- James Cromwell as Clifton
- Missi Pyle as Constance
- Penelope Ann Miller as Doris Valentin
- Malcolm McDowell as The Butler
- Bitsie Tulloch as Norma
- Beth Grant as Peppy's maid
- Ed Lauter as Peppy's first chauffeur
- Jen Lilley as Onlooker
- Nina Siemaszko as Admiring woman
- Jewel Shepard as Flapper starlet
- Basil Hoffman as Auctioneer
- Ben Kurland as Casting assistant
- Ken Davitian as Pawnbroker
- Bill Fagerbakke as Policeman
- Adria Tennor as Zimmer's Assistant
Director Michel Hazanavicius had been fantasizing about making a silent film for many years, both because many filmmakers he admires emerged in the silent era, and because of the image-driven nature of the form. According to Hazanavicius, his wish to make a silent film was at first not taken seriously, but after the financial success of his spy-film pastiches OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio, producers started to express interest. The forming of the film's narrative started with Hazanavicius' desire to work again with actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who had both starred in OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. Hazanavicius chose the form of a melodrama, mostly because he thought many of the films from the silent era that have aged best are of that genre. He did extensive research about 1920s Hollywood, and studied silent films to find the right techniques to make the story comprehensible without having to use too many intertitles. The screenplay took four months to write and was principally inspired by the 1928 silent comedy, Show People.
Chief among the influences shaping the screenplay's protagonist was Douglas Fairbanks. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recent book Douglas Fairbanks, by Jeffrey Vance, as well as the Academy's Douglas Fairbanks exhibition and screening events both in Los Angeles and New York City, afforded Hollywood's first swashbuckling hero and the Academy's first president some significant media attention.
Principal photography on The Artist began in November 2010, taking place over the course of thirty-five days, made in the 1.33:1 screen ratio commonly used in the silent film era. Though presented in black-and-white, it was shot in color by cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman. All the technical details, including lenses, lighting and camera moves, were calibrated to aesthetically match silent films of the period. To recreate the slightly sped-up look of 1920s silent films, the film was shot at a slightly lower frame rate of 22 fps as opposed to the standard 24 fps. Most of the film is silent, except for two brief scenes with sound as well as the non-diegetic soundtrack. Throughout the shoot, Hazanavicius played music from classic Hollywood films while the actors performed.
The film was produced by La Petite Reine and ARP Sélection for 13.47 million euro, including co-production support from Studio 37 and France 3 Cinéma, and pre-sales investment from Canal+ and CinéCinéma. The cast and the crew included both French and American members. All the scenes were shot in Los Angeles, primarily in Hollywood, but also in downtown theaters, restaurants and houses, including the one in which Mary Pickford lived. Soundstage work was done at Red Studios, and the studio lot itself doubled for part of the fictional Kinograph Studios lot, with Red's Lillian Way entrance doubling as the Kinograph entrance in several sequences. The iconic Bradbury Building in downtown L.A. provided the location for the film's distinctive staircase sequence. The dance sequence that closes the film took seventeen takes, and required Dujardin and Bejo to spend five months studying tap dancing, with Dujardin claiming that "in the first week it's fun, the fifth week it's a little boring, at the end it's thrilling".
The film's music was largely composed by Ludovic Bource, but includes works by other composers such as Alberto Ginastera's "Estancia". The soundtrack was recorded in Belgium by the Brussels Philharmonic and was conducted by Ernst Van Tiel; the Brussels Jazz Orchestra also cooperated. The recording took place during six days in April 2011 at Flagey's Studio 4 in Brussels.
The film's climactic scene is set to Bernard Herrmann's "Scène d'amour" from his score to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo. In Vertigo, that composition similarly accompanies an extended scene without dialogue. Only one song (sung, with lyrics) is used in the soundtrack, "Pennies from Heaven", sung by Rose "Chi-Chi" Murphy (uncredited). This song was written in 1936 although the film is set between 1927 and 1932. The soundtrack was released on 10 October in France, and 21 October in the U.K. and U.S. through Sony Classical Records.
The film premiered on 15 May 2011 in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It was initially announced as an out of competition entry, but was moved to the competition a week before the festival opened. The French regular release was on 12 October 2011 through Warner Bros. France. The Weinstein Company bought the distribution rights for the United States and Australia and Entertainment Film Distributors bought the UK distribution. The film was initially given a limited release in the United States on 23 November 2011.
Following its wins at the 69th Golden Globe Awards, it was announced Warner Bros. would re-release the film in France in 362 theaters on 25 January 2012. It was also re-released in Belgium on 22 February 2012.
The Artist grossed $44,671,682 in North America, along with $88,761,174 in other territories for a worldwide total of $133,432,856. After its success at the Academy Awards, the film saw a moderate boost the following week on the box office in North America. It appeared on the week's top 10 chart and got an increase of 34% while expanding its release from 966 theaters to 1,756.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 320 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The website's critical consensus states, "A crowd-pleasing tribute to the magic of silent cinema, The Artist is a clever, joyous film with delightful performances and visual style to spare." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film received an average score of 89 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Mark Adams of Screen Daily called the film "a real pleasure"; "propelled elegantly forward by delightful performances from Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo it is the most unlikely of feel-good movies." He added however: "The film does feel a little sluggish towards the end of the first third as the music is a little repetitive and the intertitles are infrequent, but Hazanavicius manages to give the film a real sense of charm and warmth, and film fans will be competing to spot visual and musical references." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described how the film "had me on my feet cheering throughout the final credits" and stated "I can't wait to see it again".
Geoffrey McNab at The Independent called the film "both a surefire crowdpleaser and a magnificent piece of film-making" in his 5 star review from the Cannes Film Festival. Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail assessed The Artist highly, noting the film "uses old technology to dazzling effect to illustrate the insistent conquest of a new technology." Sukanya Verma for Rediff.com feels The Artist is an extremely well-researched film and is an instant classic. David Thomson of The New Republic called The Artist an "accomplished and witty entertainment" and went on to write, "Whether Hazanavicius can do more things as elegant and touching, without the gimmick of silence, remains to be seen (and heard). Meanwhile, he is to be congratulated on the grounds of pleasure alone. He may be due for much more in the way of rewards." Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, praising the performances, and calling the film "one of the most entertaining films in many a moon, a film that charms because of its story, its performances and because of the sly way it plays with being silent and black and white."
Writing for Slant Magazine, Jaime N. Christley gave the film one-and-a-half out of four stars, explaining Michel Hazanavicius ignores "everything that's fascinating and memorable about the era, focusing instead on a patchwork of general knowledge, so eroded of inconvenient facts that it doesn't even qualify as a roman à clef." America argued that while Jean Dujardin carried the film, Bejo's performance was disappointing.
Kim Novak controversy
On 9 January 2012, actress Kim Novak stated that "rape" had been metaphorically committed in the film's licensed use of a portion of Bernard Herrmann's score from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo (in which Novak starred). The final portion of The Artist is accompanied not by original music, but by a 1992 recording of the Herrmann composition Scene d'Amour, conducted by Elmer Bernstein. In the article published, by Variety, she stated that "I feel as if my body—or at least my body of work—has been violated by the movie." "This film should've been able to stand on its own without depending on Bernard Herrmann's score from Alfred Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' to provide more drama" and that "It is morally wrong for the artistry of our industry to use and abuse famous pieces of work to gain attention and applause for other than what they were intended", ending her comments with "Shame on them!"
In response, director Hazanavicius released a statement:
The Artist was made as a love letter to cinema, and grew out of my (and all of my cast and crew’s) admiration and respect for movies throughout history. It was inspired by the work of Hitchcock, Lang, Ford, Lubitsch, Murnau and Wilder. I love Bernard Herrmann and his music has been used in many different films and I’m very pleased to have it in mine. I respect Kim Novak greatly and I’m sorry to hear she disagrees.
Hazanavicius also told CNN "I used music from another movie, but it’s not illegal. We paid for that, we asked for that and we had the permission to do it. For me there is no real controversy.... I feel sorry for her, but there’s a lot of movies with music from other movies, directors do that all the time and I’m not sure it’s a big deal."
In May 2011, when the film was first shown at the Cannes Festival, Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter mentioned the use of Herrmann's music, "Hazanavicius and Bource daringly choose to explicitly employ Bernard Herrmann’s love theme from Vertigo, which is dramatically effective in its own right but is so well known that it yanks you out of one film and places you in the mind-set of another. Surely some sort of reworked equivalent would have been a better idea."
Top ten lists
The film has appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2011:
|Peter Bradshaw||The Guardian||1st|
|Robbie Collin||The Telegraph||1st|
|Richard Roeper||Chicago Tribune||2nd|
|Peter Travers||Rolling Stone||2nd|
|Elizabeth Weitzman||New York Daily News||2nd|
|Lisa Schwarzbaum||Entertainment Weekly||3rd|
|Mark Kermode||BBC Radio 5 Live||4th|
|Richard T. Jameson||MSN Movies||4th|
|Sean Axmaker||MSN Movies||5th|
|Empire's writers and contributors||Empire Magazine||5th|
|S&S international poll of critics||Sight & Sound||5th|
|Austin Film Critics Association||Austin Film Critics Association||6th|
|Roger Ebert||Chicago Sun-Times||10th|
|Time Out's film team||Time Out London||10th|
At the 65th British Academy Film Awards, the film won seven awards, including Best Film, Best Actor for Dujardin, Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius, Cinematography for Schiffman, Costume Design for Bridges and Original Score for Ludovic Bource. At the 69th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for six Golden Globes to win three of them; Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dujardin and Best Musical Score for Bource.
At the 84th Academy Awards, The Artist received ten nominations, winning five awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Hazanavicius, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Jean Dujardin, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
- There has been some confusion on whether the film is French or American. The official American website states it "is the first American film by acclaimed French writer/director Michel Hazanavicius", while the AMPAS and mass media describe it as a French film, given that the film was directed and produced by Frenchmen and that the two lead roles are played by French actors.
- Several sources list the film as a "romantic comedy" or a "romantic comedy drama". However, there is no romance plot in the film.
- "The Artist (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
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- Thompson, Nick (27 February 2012). "How a silent, black-and-white French film won big at the Oscars". CNN. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Patel, Tara (27 February 2012). "Oscar Wins for 'The Artist' Mark Record for a French Film". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Pfanner, Eric (27 February 2012). "French Film Industry Celebrates Its Cultural Exception". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Director Michel Hazanavicius Inspired By Life Of Silent Actor John Gilbert In Writing 'The Artist'". IndieWire. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
- "Nominees & Recipients: ACE Film Editors". American Cinema Editors. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- "Golden Globe nominations". Goldenglobes.org. Archived from the original on 8 January 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
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- 'The Artist' is artful in the way it wins you over – 3 1/2 stars Archived 23 July 2012 at archive.today Chicago Tribune
- Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 117. ISBN 978-1908215017.
- "Silent movie The Artist leads Bafta nominations". BBC News. BBC. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Martin Scorsese's Hugo leads Oscar charge with 11 nods". BBC News. BBC. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "Oscars 2012: Billy Crystal's back and 'The Artist' could make history". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Kate Winslet to receive honorary Cesar award". BBC News. BBC. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Leffler, Rebecca (24 February 2012). "'The Artist' Wins 6 Cesar Awards, Including Best French Film of the Year". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media, LLC. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Cinema Scope: A Short History of the End of Silent Film". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "From 'The Artist' to 'Mad Men': Get to know actress Adria Tennor". filmdaily.co. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
- "Interview with Michel Hazanavicius" (PDF). English press kit The Artist. Wild Bunch. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Alfuso, Renee (Fall 2012). "The Clothes Make the Man" (PDF). NYU Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
- Thomas Gladysz (8 July 2012). "Film historian Jeffrey Vance talks about Douglas Fairbanks". City Brights: Thomas Gladysz. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- "Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches - Search Results - Margaret Herrick Library - Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Erin Carlson (6 February 2014). "'The Artist' Dog Uggie Retiring Early Due to Mystery Illness (Report)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
- "The Orange British Academy Film Awards – 2012 Red Carpet". BBC News. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- Cruz, Gilbert (19 January 2012). "What Is This Artist Movie That's Winning All the Awards?". Time Magazine. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Steve Rose, "Now in full retrovision", The Guardian (The Guide supplement), 7 January 2012
- Rebecca Keegan (21 November 2011). "Buzz is growing over a silent film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Lemercier, Fabien (18 April 2011). "Media frenzy over Sarkozy's election Conquest". Cineuropa. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- "The Artist: The Making of An American Romance" Featurette, The Artist DVD
- Hart, Hugh (12 February 2011). "'Artist' costumer had designs on career as child". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Soundtrack for 'The artist' recorded at Brussels". Brussels Philharmonic. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
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- "Horaires 2011" (PDF). festival-cannes.com (in French). Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Mitchell, Wendy (4 May 2011). "Hazanavicius' The Artist moves into Competition in Cannes". Screen Daily. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- "The Artist". AlloCiné (in French). Tiger Global. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Tartaglione, 16 May 2011. "Wild Bunch, Weinsteins confirm multi-territory deal on The Artist". Screen Daily. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- Rich, Katey (28 November 2011). "The Artist Star Jean Dujardin On How Gene Kelly Inspired His Work". CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- "" The Artist " ressort en salles en France". Le Soir (in French). 16 January 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Keslassy, Elsa (22 February 2012). "France's second look at 'Artist'". Variety. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- ""The Artist" remporte 7 Bafta Awards dont meilleur film, meilleur réalisateur et meillleur acteur" (in French). cinéart.be. Archived from the original on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- McClintock, Pamela (4 March 2012). "'The Artist' Enjoys Box Office Bump After Oscar Wins". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media, LLC. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
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- Adams, Mark (15 May 2011). "The Artist". Screen Daily. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- Bradshaw, Peter (16 May 2011). "Cannes 2011: The Artist/Michael/Footnote – review". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
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- Groen, Rick (9 December 2011). "The Artist: Mostly mute, it speaks volumes about silent film". The Globe and Mail. Toronto: The Globe and Mail Limited. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Sukanya Verma. "Review: The Artist is an instant classic". Rediff.com. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- David Thomson (5 January 2012). "Why 'The Artist' Just Might Win the Oscars". The New Republic.
- Ebert, Roger (25 July 2013). "The Artist review". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC.
- Jaime N. Christley (16 October 2011). "Film Review – The Artist". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Stepien, Victor (12 March 2012). "The French Connection". America. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "Artist director responds to Kim Novak Vertigo claim". BBC News. BBC. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "'The Artist' director defends use of Hitchcock score". The Marquee Blog. CNN. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "'The Artist' Director Responds to Kim Novak Slam Over 'Vertigo' Music". The Hollywood Reporter. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- McCarthy, Todd (15 May 2011). "The Artist: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media, LLC. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- Corliss, Richard (7 December 2011). "The Top 10 Everything of 2011 – The Artist". Time. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- Dietz, Jason (8 December 2011). "2011 Film Critic Top Ten Lists [Updated Dec. 22]". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "Top 10 Lists from Richard Roeper, Michael Phillips, J. Hoberman, and Todd McCarthy". Chicago Tribune. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
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- "2011 Awards". Austin Film Critics. 17 December 2011. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- "Orange BAFTA Film Awards 2012 winners list — in full". Digital Bits. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
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