Month of Classic Movies: Day 3, The Cameraman 8/10

One of my favorite finds these last five years was BUSTER KEATON. He was truly the master of creating visual gags and reversing audiences’ preconceptions about movies and storytelling. Roger Ebert put it thus in his review.

The greatest of the silent clowns is Buster Keaton, not only because of what he did, but because of how he did it. Harold Lloyd made us laugh as much, Charlie Chaplin moved us more deeply, but no one had more courage than Buster. I define courage as Hemingway did: “Grace under pressure.” In films that combined comedy with extraordinary physical risks, Buster Keaton played a brave spirit who took the universe on its own terms, and gave no quarter.

The Films of Buster Keaton, Roger Ebert

Keaton did have the flare of Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp, but he had a distinct style and face that was very endearing.

I basically like every film he’s ever made. Including this one. (If you want to learn more about him and his contribution to film, watch this video!)

Look 9/10

Whenever I watch Keaton’s movies, I feel as though I’ve transported back in time! I always learn so much not only about the culture in the 1920s but also FILM MAKING. Throughout this film in particular, Keaton carried around this big awkward camera he had to crank at the side and change film for.

What’s most remarkable about it is I WANT TO GO THERE. This may sound crazy but this film made me want to step back in time and go to the public pool, see men with their big awkward cameras, getting black and white photographs taken, and walk along the beach.

Flow 9/10

I never need to worry about pacing in Keaton’s films. He always has great screenplay. A lot of silent films from the 1920s feel bogged down because there is too much going on. The Cameraman is a great example of how to use minimalism, in movement and dialogue, to to tell a BIG story.

Here’s what I mean. Keaton didn’t have to explain through title cards how his character felt or his expectations. A large display of emotions motivations were easily conveyed without resorting to TELLING an audience everything.

Keaton’s character, young, in love, and yet earnest, appeals to a large audience because he carries the story through a charming display of mistakes, failures, and small triumphs.

Honestly, modern love stories could learn a lot about pacing and pathos from Keaton’s films.

Feel 8/10

This is where it took me just a little longer to get pulled into the film. When it comes to love stories specifically, it usually takes me a little while to get invested. This one was no exception.

At first I figured it was a similar situation Keaton’s characters have been in before: an awkward guy falling for a beautiful woman who stays elusively just out of his reach.

That is basically how it was with this story as well. Yet, half way through the film, I forgot I had seen this scenario before. I didn’t really care. I genuinely wanted Keaton’s character to succeed. Although in the back of my mind I knew, of course, things would work out I felt myself emotionally drawn into his problems and feelings.

If Keaton’s films are anything, they are sincere in how they display genuine feelings of love and elation.

Personal Taste 8/10

Though The Cameraman isn’t my favorite film, I would always be up to going and seeing it again. Not just for the story! Keaton’s staging and camera work are really fascinating to watch! I am NEVER bored seeing his films.

I always recommend them!

He was just that good of a film maker and actor.

Favorite Scene

This was really tough for me. Most of the scenes shot in this film were thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

The one that REALLY got me laughing was his scrabble UP and DOWN the stairs of his building waiitng in anticipation for her to call him. Once she did call him and invite him over he RAAAAN to her place, arriving just when she realized he wasn’t on the phone anymore.

Their date in general was just lovely to watch.

Hope you enjoyed! See you next time.

2 Comments

  1. Buster Keaton! There is a new book on Keaton you’ll want to check out. I just posted a review!

    1. aubreym3 says:

      That’s magical! Thanks! I love learning about him.

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