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Title: Gesture in slapstick tradition in transition.
Authors: Quek, Eunice.
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Mass media::Broadcasting::Motion pictures and films::Film theory and criticism
Issue Date: 2009
Abstract: My paper scrutinizes the role of gesture in slapstick films, from the silent to the sound era. I focus on the performances of early slapstick actors like Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, classical Hollywood slapstick actors Cary Grant and Jerry Lewis, and contemporary Hollywood slapstick actors Robin Williams, Rowan Atkinson and Jim Carrey. I trace out how gesture, through its movements and actions, forms the root of slapstick performances. Gesture is required for the excessive display of violence, spontaneity and comedic spectacle, as acted out in the slapstick films of the actors I examine. In turn, I also observe how in their texts about film comedy, critics like James Agee and Andrew S. Horton examine slapstick performances differently. Pertinent to my project is the transition of gesture, as it is used in performances in both the silent and sound eras. I highlight how this transition changes the way audiences watch and respond to slapstick films today, especially when audiences today may not have watched a single silent slapstick film before. It is critical to note how gesture tends to go unnoticed in slapstick films today, when its main function in silent slapstick was indeed to emphasize the strength of the genre through the pantomime and gag sequences. Ultimately, I prove that it is impossible to study slapstick films without looking at gesture above all other cinematic elements like narrative or character.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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