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.
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