Ahh, an essay question! OK - I’m in the mood to type!
For starters, I’ll not get myself into trouble by saying that Keaton is “superior” to Chaplin. That’s asking for a fight. Rather, I’ll tell you why I prefer Buster over Charlie. That’s playing it safe:
1. Socio-Economics: I feel that Chaplin’s work has an undercurrent of politics, social commentary and opinion that was likely bred out of the class system and labor vs. capital struggles that were central issues at the turn of the century, as well as by Chaplin’s personal political bent. We don’t live in the same kind of world today as we did in the early 1900’s, so Charlie’s tramp character - and his in-your-face portrayal of poverty - don’t date as well in current times. Buster, on the other hand, is purely apolitical, his character is of no discernible class strata, he neither champions the poor nor villifies the rich. Everyone is game for lampooning in Buster’s work. It creates a purity in plot structure that sits well with today’s audiences and I like that.
2. Sentimentality: I can’t watch “City Lights” or “The Kid” without Kleenex, and that’s the way Chaplin wanted it. Buster, on the other hand, wanted to keep me in a state of constant amazement and laughter. Chaplin’s movies use melodrama and pathos to make a point with the audience, while Keaton - ever the stoic - eschewed sentimentality in favor of a constant barrage of action, movement, hilarity and space. Buster lets me take a breather or two between laughs, but for the most part he keep my sides hurting from title screen to ending credits. IOW, Chaplin offers emotional highs and lows - while Buster is a ballistic missile of happiness that shoots right to the top and explodes. I prefer the latter.
3. Cinematography: Chaplin uses mainly medium-shots and lots of closeups to protect emotional scenes and drive home plot points. I call these “people talkin’ to one another” movies. Buster wants you to see the world around him - it’s practically the co-star of each of his films! Nobody used tracking shots, long shots, and pans to show things in constant motion, moving at weird angles, going up and coming down quite like Buster (and his expert cameramen like Lessley, Jennings, etc.). Charlie’s movies are filmed like a story. Buster’s movies are filmed like a journey. I like the trips!
4. Timing: Charlie’s camera likes to dwell on the happy and sad scenes, as if to wring the last chuckle or tear from the audience. With Buster’s work, there’s an economy that allows for more action/laughter to be packed into a shorter time. Buster seems to give his audience more credit for “getting it” than Chaplin. Keaton will pull a gag and seemingly say: “Ok, you got that, now let’s move on to something else.” The beauty is - he doesn’t lose any continuity of story or lose the audience in the process. I like that Buster gives me some credit for intelligence.
5. Physical vs. Emotional Comedy: This is a no brainer. When I’m not laughing at Buster, I’m short of breath watching his incredible body flying through the air, splatting on the pavement, launching across chasms, dodging boulders or dancing along moving trains. Charlie could take a fall, but NOBODY moved like Keaton. NOBODY.
6. Personal: Charlie Chaplin became a film mogul-businessman. He necessarily spent as much time futzing around the boardroom at United Artists, making appearances, and holding court as he did making films. He was a more cautious, intellectual filmmaker and his output slowed as a result. Keaton was an intuitive who didn’t care for the business end of things and he didn’t philosophize. He had a simplicity of character that wanted to do one thing and do it well. That purity and lack of pretense make Keaton’s films more authentic and genuine to me. IOW, you don’t see much of Charlie Chaplin (the man) in Charlie’s films - but you get a truckload of the real Keaton in Buster’s work. I like that.
7. Buster is much better looking and a whole lot sexier. (You didn’t think I was going to be THAT scholarly, did you?) LOL!
OK, CC fans, fire away!
My sentiments exactly.
I couldn’t agree more. You hit the nail right on the head.
- emideranged likes this
- brokensword888 likes this
- beautifullychaoticworld likes this
- cakebythelakewrites likes this
- plum68 reblogged this from fortheloveofbuster and added:
- steam-powered-detective reblogged this from fortheloveofbuster and added:
- jessnvic75 likes this
- mrbusterkeaton likes this
- coololdthings likes this
- fortheloveofbuster reblogged this from chunkydunkingmermaid and added:
- fortheloveofbuster likes this
- monocoleporter likes this
- maggieb reblogged this from chunkydunkingmermaid and added:
- ohhhwhatchaknowjo likes this
- busterkeatons likes this
- kateveidt likes this
- deforest likes this
- she-is-so-strange likes this
- valleypunx likes this
- theloudestvoice likes this
- whos-cyborg likes this
- chunkydunkingmermaid posted this