Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘slapstick

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.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

The Kid (1921)

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The quintessential Charlie Chaplin film, The Kid blends the artist’s famous physical comedy with the fantasy element film enabled with the situational dramatic irony present in the best stories. This film represents visually all the emotions involved in a compelling story. One great example is when the mother and father of “the kid” meet five years later, their shared look conveys a fraction of their emotion. The next scene cuts to a Book of the Past and the chapter on Regrets, thus the emotion is fully explained in a visual representation. Chaplin’s usual physicality forces me to see the scenes as an elaborate dance, almost like watching the ballet where dancers tell a story with their bodies. Chaplin and the doctor character look directly at the camera at certain beats to connect their emotions to the audience. The end of this movie is also interesting, when the set is transformed with flower garlands and angel costumes in Chaplin’s dream. This is the fantasy element that movie production allows; filmmakers could execute anything they could dream up. Here is a more in-depth review of the film by John Nesbit.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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