Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Fall in the Snow

This one comes from Tumblr, so I normally wouldn't post it, but I think it says really interesting things about the distinct styles of these two geniuses.

The Frozen North (1922)
dir. Buster Keaton & Edward F. Cline

The Gold Rush (1925)
dir. Charles Chaplin

Look at how Keaton doesn't even bother to show his face. His deadpan comedy interprets the gag as, essentially, a physics joke, like the cannonball gag in The General. Chaplin, who was a much more personal and giving comic (I've never heard him described better than "no man ever wanted to be loved more"), puts the gag as a vignette about a little man that just can't catch a break - even the ground looks down on him. Look at the props at work. Keaton's impeccable little pork pie hat rolls off perfectly like a hubcap, whereas Chaplin's messy and overstuffed pack explodes all over the frame.

It's an identical gag, from two masterpiece comedies, that means two totally different things just by the force of personality at work.


  1. Yeah, they're pretty unbeatable. you should check out Chaplin's movie Limelight, if you haven't seen it. They do an act together.