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Slapstick Comedy and Silent Films - Essay Example

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Slapstick Comedy and Silent Films

Besides, enactment, the films also displayed certain captions which informed the audience about the theme of the film. The speedy actions enhanced the humor in the film. The actors who portrayed various characters were mostly shabbily or unconventionally dressed. Their funny attire supplemented by their clown like actions aroused laughter among the audiences. Thus the slapstick comedies consisted of absurd situations and vigorous actions, which had a comic tone and were performed by those actors who were highly energetic and good stuntmen.
We find a detailed account on the comparative study of slapstick comedy and Commedia dell'arte in the book of David Madden, namely, -Harlequin's stick, Charlie's cane: a comparative study of commedia dell'arte and silent slapstick comedy. In his book, he gives the discrimination between the two art forms. Commedia dell'arte was performed directly in front of the audience, whereas the slapstick comedy was presented in an indirect form that is it was projected on the screen. The commedia plays were mostly for three hours whereas slapstick comedies were comparatively briefer. In commedia the actors were donned in masks and there was continuous verbal dexterity, slapstick noise, music and color, while the silent movies were devoid of sound and color as the films were Black and White. The commedia was not video graphed whereas the slapstick was video graphed and projected on the screen. (Harlequin's Stick, Charlie's Cane - David Madden, 1968)
Actors like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were considered the milestones in the world of silent cinema. Their powerful performances spell bounded...
The researcher of this essay focuses mostly on presenting and discussing the slapstick comedies, that is a device in which, the characters have exaggerated and speedy physical activities backed up by accurate timing. They do this mainly to make people understand what kind of character they are portraying in that film. More emphasis is given on speed of actions and facial expressions. For example, the researcher states that in slapstick comedies we find scenes like a person slipping on the peel of banana skin, somebody hitting a person with frying pan, a person hitting his head against a suddenly opened door, etc. The central character enacts certain scene, which seems to be normal initially but suddenly the situation becomes chaotic, with all the characters running helter-skelter creating confusion. And it is during this time that the actor has to show presence of mind and has to take some action, which will make the audience laugh and also he has to do something brilliant to come out of that chaotic situation. The actor performs all sorts of actions like leaping, running, tumbling down etc. And for all these purposes he uses props like buckets, shovel, ladder, sea-saw, sticks, roller skates etc., which generates comedy. The researcher then presents a study on the silent films actors of early 20th century, such as Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, who were considered the milestones in the world of silent cinema and used the slapstick comedy in their films in a creative way that made their art memorable. ...Show more
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This essay focuses on the discussion of slapstick comedy, that is a device in which, the characters have exaggerated and speedy physical activities backed up by accurate timing in which the situations shown become chaotic as characters running helter-skelter creating confusion…
Slapstick Comedy and Silent Films
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