Two From Keaton

Posted on February 23, 2011

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Buster Keaton, like his counterparts Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, directed, wrote and acted in films during the early 20th century. He also successfully handled the transition from silent films to “talkies.” One of his earlier silent films, 1924’s Sherlock Jr. stars Keaton as an innocent young movie projectionist who is trying to win a girl’s heart, when he is accused of stealing her father’s watch. The film features Buster Keaton’s character falling asleep and dreaming that he is inside of a movie. The movie, for a short time, suspends the character’s view of reality, in the same way that the viewer’s reality has been suspended. And considering the time period in which it was made, this film has some tricky special effects, including the part where Buster walks from the theater into the movie. In The Chemist, also starring Keaton, we see the addition of sound. Though as of the late 1920s, movies were now made with sound, they still relied on a lot of the physical humor that their silent counterparts did. The chase scene between the chemist and the burglars in this film was a good example of this, though after this point, humor in film could now be more sophisticated. The plot of the film brought to light the advancement of scientific discoveries in the 1930s, and how science could practically “do anything” at that point in time.

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