During the silent era, Hollywood’s approach to narrative structure was rapidly evolving. But while dramas were soon employing complex plot devices and lengthier running times, comedies lagged behind, focusing mainly on episodic slapstick. That changed when pioneers such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd began to adopt strategies from feature narratives, developing multi-stranded plot structures and augmenting psychological characterization with their signature styles of physical comedy. For this month’s episode of Observations on Film Art, now playing on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, scholar David Bordwell takes a look at this major turning point in the history of film form, using the storytelling approach of the 1924 Lloyd vehicle Girl Shy as an example. Check out a preview of the episode below, then head to the Channel, where you’ll find the full program streaming along with Girl Shy and a documentary about Lloyd’s career.
Consuming the Cat: Brenda Lien Calls Out an Internet Fetish
In a short film now featured on the Criterion Channel, the German filmmaker interrogates our insatiable appetite for feline memes and what it says about our consumerist culture.
The Art of Lighting a Comedic Thriller
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, Professor Kristin Thompson explores how Ernst Lubitsch’s satirical masterpiece To Be or Not to Be employs a venerable cinematographic technique: three-point lighting.