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Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were two of the most remarkable actors of the Silent Film
Era. They both helped the movie industry by making funny and popular films that nowadays
can be treated as cult classics. The analysis of their approach to filmmaking show both
differences and similarities. In this essay I would like to focus on contrasting silhouettes that
these men have created on the big screen, their different ideas to make the audience laugh and
their versatility.

In terms of appearance, Chaplin created ‘the Tramp’ as his screen personality, who is widely
recognized with his bowler hat and his mustache. He designed his outfit to look untidy: he
wore a jacket buttoned too tightly, the trousers too baggy, and shoes too big which were worn
on the wrong feet. Furthermore, Chaplin was famous for his expressive facial expression,
body language, and use of emotions. In contrast, Keaton’s character had well-groomed
appearance and wore a self-made hat, which was a pork pie hat. While, Chaplin used facial
expressions, Keaton was well-known for his deadpan and stoic expression in his movies. He
even gained a moniker, “The Great Stone Face”, because of his lacking of showing emotion.

Furthermore, both actors also have different styles in terms of making their audience laugh.
Chaplin relied on his body and facial movements, he thought that while he was moving or
making faces in ridiculous way people would laugh more. Meanwhile, Keaton used his
emotionless expression and violence, because he was convinced that in that way he could tell
the story and execute hilarious situations, which would entertain his audience. Another
example is that Chaplin used realistic comedy, because his movies were set in daily life
situations, so that people could relate. On the contrary, Keaton’s style is often considered as
the physical comedy, because he used his acrobatic abilities to do extraordinary stunts. Due to
their respective personalities, Chaplin is considered the “warm” comedian while Keaton is the
“cool” funnyman.

Similarly, these two famous comedians were undeniably men of many parts. They showed
their commitment to their job by writting scripts for their movies, directing them and
most importantly playing the main roles. Both Chaplin and Keaton were
perfectionists when it came to filming. For example, during filming ‘City Lights’
Chaplin demanded 342 takes for one scene. Similarly, Keaton needed 76 takes of the
scene until he finally got what he wanted in ‘The Three Ages’. Their dedication to
movie-making was certainly rewarded.

Concluding, I think it’s safe to say that the Silent Film Era have been blessed with the talents
of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. They were indeed different but also similar in a
way. Their individual looks are still to this day recognized, their miscellaneous ways of
making audience laugh are constantly making people happy, and their versatility is
unquestionably admired by many people. There’s no doubt that they have remained great
influences toward the new generations of comedians and performers.