Everyone almost forgets how young cinema is. Before we had big blockbusters or small independent films. We had an era before all where only silence reigned and the artists that led the charge would pioneer and era of filmmaking unlike anything the world ever knew and haven’t seen since.
The silent film era is one that I never really heard about despite being a long time filmmaker I knew and heard about the great Charlie Chaplin and the illustrious Buster Keaton, little did I know how impressive their work would be as I began almost religiously binge-watching some of their notable works.
Charlie Chaplin, was an English comic actor, writer, director and producer. He rose to prominence for creating his iconic character known as “The Tramp“. Chaplin’s film always had a sense of optimism even despite his acknowledgement of real problems going on with his society and not shying away of what he felt people should be discussing. Pictures such as The New Janitor, The Vagabond and City Lights. Had this sense of patience and bravado in most of his earlier pictures while his later pictures I discovered The Circus and Modern Times. all had this sense of confidence and gravitas. leaning less on the jokes and more on theme. Leading to a masterclass of filmmaking that’ll last an eternity.
Buster Keaton, was an American comic actor, writer, director and producer. Who also rose to prominence at this time, although never having one iconic character to carry his whole journey, he still had his own iconography that still reigns till this day. Keaton’s storied career into small time silent films to early blockbusting silent film epics, always made his films a great watch. Keaton’s earlier notable earlier works such as One Week, Cops and Sherlock Jr. Did a great job of capturing his wonderful charm and amazing voice with so little effort through use of his exquisite use of physical situational comedy. In works of pictures such as Go West, The Navigator and The General, Keaton would be able to hone in on what would make his films great by innovating his stories to a grander more wonderous scale (similar to the modern day blockbuster) and focusing even more on character work which would elevate his work and the medium to new heights.
The thing that made this era of film special to me, is something I noticed while I was watching something made me wonder, all of these artists had so little to work with at the time. With only their story, music, physicality and amazing stories, these innovators were able to get so much mastery despite their limitations not only making good films but making greater films as time went on. I could only imagine the kind of films they would’ve made in the era of film we’re in now. However, I’ve now found new inspiration in these two gentlemen’s body of work and I only hope that this article can persuade other people who love cinema or love movies to do themselves a favor and go back to watch these two gentlemen’s pictures. I only hope to be able to leave a wonderful body of work to have someone feel the way I felt about the pictures I had just seen. For The Love Of Film…. I present thee with the end, of the ODE TO VAUDEVILLE.