Essay on Movie Analysis : ' The Dream He Solves The Silent Era '

Essay on Movie Analysis : ' The Dream He Solves The Silent Era '

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Sherlock Jr. is a film from the silent era, which Keaton both starred in and directed. It tells the story of a poor cinema projectionist who dreams of becoming a famous detective. He is in love with a ‘girl’, yet is deceived by a rival who frames him for stealing her father’s pocket watch. Failing in his attempt to solve the crime, he is banished from ever setting foot in her house and returns to his projectionist booth where he dreams he is the detective within the projected film (which parallel the film’s events in reality). In the dream he solves the case and escapes with the girl, yet in reality it is her who uncovers the truth and returns to him, ending both the story and the film. The film is incredibly innovative, using pioneering cinematic techniques that would still evoke a sense of spectacle within modern cinema. Through its display of comedy and use of self-reflexivity, the film is reflective of issues regarding social identity and exploration through the separation of dreams and reality.
Throughout the film, Sherlock Jr. tinkers with ideas of reality and fiction and the distinction between them. This parallel of narratives gives Keaton the ability to offer a comedic analysis of an individual’s identification with those on screen. The ingenious technique also separates Keaton from other comedians of his time. In the New York Times Article “Phlegmatic Mr. Keaton Is a Stylist as Jester,” Mordaunt Hall says that, “In all Buster Keaton’s pictures there is a rich fund of original situations that are singularly well suited to this phlegmatic comedian.” This definitely fits the narrative structure of Sherlock Jr. The film employs two narratives, one imagined and the other set in the film’s narrative reality. The narratives a...


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...pears to jump through someone to escape, in another he jumps through a window into a moving car. By staging the narrative within a dream like world, Keaton can push the cinematic boundaries further than many comedians before him. Thus, Keaton can perform tricks that amaze audiences while remaining somewhat plausible. His brilliant technique and innovative performance brighten the film and make it that more humorous.
“You cannot compare the successful comedy of today with the one of five years ago” (Los Angeles Times 1922). Sherlock Jr is a highly imaginative and innovative comedy that explores the concept of reality and cinema through experimental filmmaking techniques. Keaton envelops the audience through witty humor and gags without ever being tiresome. The humor in the film creates a spectacle that is not only pleasurable to watch but leaves the audience in awe.

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