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The director said he didn’t want to make a spoof but “a romance … a lovely, charming modest story.”

“All the silent movies I have seen, the best ones are romances. Murnau’s movies … Chaplin’s movies _ they are all melodramas.”

He told his cast not to adopt an exaggerated 1920s acting style “because it will be parodic. It will be ridiculous.”

Instead he used subtle visual clues, including filming at 22 frames per second, rather than the standard 24, to give the slight speeded-up look we recognize from old silent movies.

Bejo said she realized early on that she was going to have a lot of research for the role of a silent screen siren _ a task she relished.

“I was like a little girl in new playground,” she said. “I read so many books and looked at so many pictures of the stars of the ‘20s.

“I looked at every wink of Marlene Dietrich. I looked at Joan Crawford dancing and putting her legs everywhere and getting crazy and I thought, those women were animals. There was something so sensual, so carnal.”

Bejo said she realized then that “I am going to have to find a way of moving, talking, kissing.”

“Normally when you’re an actor you work not only on your body but on dialogue,” she said. “This time I had to forget all the intellectual part and just let my body express everything.”