Directed by BUSTER KEATON
The Speechless Blogathon is yet another event hosted by the talented blogger Lesya, from Eternity of Dream. The goal is to choose a silent film we haven’t seen before, and write about it. This won’t be a serious review, for I can never write much about silent films, no matter how much I adore them.
In Sherlock Jr., Buster Keaton is a movie projectionist who tries to learn the art of being a detective; and as the initial frames read, don’t try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both. So Buster is both a bad detective and a lousy projectionist: he let’s the criminal easily frame him, and falls asleep on the job, where he begins to dream. In his dream, he becomes the kind of hero who beats the bad guys and saves the girl. Though infinitely clumsier than your average 007, fortune does seem to grace him more in his dreams than in real life: whether jumping through windows or riding riderless motorcycles, he always manages to escape all the incredible close calls with crashing cars, passing trains, and collapsing bridges. He may be oblivious to most of it, but he’s certainly always in the right place, at the right time.
It’s this series of (mis)fortunes that make us laugh, but it’s his attempts to innocently seduce the girl he loves in real life that warm our hearts. And this superb balance between comedy and drama is why I’m a fan of Buster Keaton. Though The General remains my favorite, Sherlock Jr. has some memorable scenes. — SPOILERS AHEAD — Like when he alters the gift’s price and spends a great deal trying to impress the girl and touch her; his face every time someone said they had lost a dollar; when he makes a sailing boat out of the car; and the very final scene, where he imitates the film’s leading man. — IT’S SAFE AGAIN —
But as usual, it’s in the details that the true genius of this artist is revealed, and it is because of them that upon every re-watch of his movies you can always discover something new. At first you may enjoy them because they’re a good laugh, a breath of fresh (though ironically old) air; but if you press them long enough, there are plenty of underlying themes that can be subject to an analysis. By the way, the version I watched had some James Bond music bits and a bluesy guitar, all very avant-garde. It was distracting at first, then it got funny, and now I’m not sure what to think of it.