Jean Dujardin arrives before the 84th Academy Awards. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

“The Artist” star was all smiles as he took to the stage: “I love your country.”

After thanking the Academy, Dujardin gave a bit of a history lesson about the first Oscar ceremony in 1929. He joked about its running time of 15 50 minutes, as the current ceremony approached its third hour.

He gave a special thank you to silent film actor Douglas Fairbanks for inspiring his character.

Clearly excited, Dujardin finished his speech with an ecstatic — and difficult to understand — statement: “If George Valentin could speak, he’d say, ‘Merci beaucoup, formidable!’ ”

View Photo Gallery: Highlights from the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California.

Photos: Red carpet fashion

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