Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘buster keaton

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

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This film employs a lot of text in the beginning, in the style of a storybook, to introduce the characters. After that, we are left in the care of wild gestures amidst soaring and sometimes lilting music as the only exposition. While the music may not be original to the film, it was one of the aspects from the Lost Keaton DVD collection that struck me the most. The sad guitar music and during the action scenes, some explosive melodies kept me involved in the story. Buster Keaton’s expressiveness and every-man quality proves he was meant to be captured on film. The fantasy elements of this story are what elevate it to a great short film. Keaton, the film projectionist dreaming of being a detective, jumps into the movie he is showing as he witnesses his love and the man who framed him become the main characters in the movie. This dream sequence acts as a fulfillment of his dreams and a way for him to clear his name, while in real life, it is the realist female who rights the situation rather than the dreamer. Ultimately, this film should be recognized not for its successful cinematic breaks from reality, but as maybe the first film to act out the classic slipping-on-a-banana-peel gag of cartoon legend.

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Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

The Chemist (1936)

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Buster Keaton is renowned in the archive of early American cinema for daring train scenes, unbelievable gags, and the ability to go beyond what people imagined film could do. The narrative quality of The Chemist exemplifies how far film had come in just a few decades. With the inclusion of dialogue, Keaton executes an absorbing plot, holding the audience through a longer “feature” film that we may still classify as a short today. The official running time is nineteen minutes. In that short time, Keaton includes unprecedented special effects with the main character’s growing powders and explosive powders as well as the physical gags audiences of the time expected in a picture show. The chemist of the title is the classic comedic character of the clueless smart guy – the character who’s obliviousness gets him into Vaudevillian hijinks, but he’s able to outsmart a group of mobsters in the end. This film directed by Al Christie is proof positive that Keaton and his peers set the standard for thousands of films to come.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

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