Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

A Film Johnnie (1914)

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This fifteen-minute film directed by George Nichols is a fantastic example of the slapstick physical humor Charlie Chaplin brought from Vaudeville to Hollywood. The plot is simple, but for such an early short film the mise-en-scene is packed with a variety of complicated sets, rapid action, and props. Most of the action is set at Keystone Studios. Because of the fixed wide shots and immobile camera, the characters moving through the frame are reminiscent of a play rather than the moving camera-work we associate with movies today. Chaplin includes a graceful choreography, nearly a fluid dance, of gesture-based comedy. This film sets a colorful example of early American cinema – both the beginning of the feature films and short films released today.

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Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

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