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Comparative Analysis of The Works of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

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I found that Chaplin and Keaton had similar works. While both very similar, they still had their own presence and style. What I found most interesting about their work is that both men had a sympathy for lower-class people and that was reflected in their works. Similarly, their disdain for greedy people and the state apparatus. This stems from Chaplin and Keaton growing up in lower-income families, with the former experiencing extremely poor conditions in England whilst growing up. Interestingly enough, though, Keaton’s works didn’t feature a protagonist as poor and miserable as Chaplin’s did. As far as acting styles, there is a significant difference in the way Chaplin uses his body compared to Keaton. Charlie Chaplin focused mostly on the effects that were produced by different parts of his body to create a character’s emotion.

The Bank is an excellent example of Chaplin using his body to convey the emotions his character is experiencing, as well as presenting comedy. In nearly every movie of Chaplin’s, he has an object in his hand when he’s interacting with other characters, which allows for more vivacious movements to illicit whatever emotion Chaplin is trying to express within a scene.

Conversely, Buster Keaton doesn’t really rely much on bodily movements. At the beginning of One Week, Keaton almost looks a little too stiff; this can be seen when he takes the cop’s stick away to stop the car. Even when Keaton is swinging the stick around, he’s far less animated and moves slower than compared to Chaplin’s movements in, say, The Bank. I also noticed that they share a similarity in creating likable characters by way of carrying themselves with a slightly naive, almost carless way. I felt like Charlie Chaplin relied a lot on detailed effects that were produced by by his body, so the framing within his films had to be tighter than Keaton’s. They were also shot, if memory serves correctly, with a wider lens. Keaton didn’t use the tight frames, and used a long lens, because he chose not to rely so heavily on his body movements; he wanted to show the physical relationship between his characters and other, often larger, objects.

The staging and blocking of scenes within each of these two were largely influenced by their respective acting choices. Buster relies more heavily on staging and blocking simply because he relied more on the relationships between characters and the objects they are near within a scene. He simply would need more orchestrated scenes in order to pull off comedic tricks. Charlie Chaplin’s blocking and staging is on a much smaller scale since he’s so physically involved in producing comedic effects.

I think that the respective stories of each of the two men is one to be noticed as well. This, again, is heavily influenced by their acting choices. For Chaplin, this means making his stories more centrally focused on few characters, which allows him to focus more on the detailed body movements. Keaton, on the other hand, focuses on larger-scale stories that need more space to show physical relations between characters and objects, as well as focusing on many, many characters (i. e. , Cops).

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Comparative Analysis Of The Works Of Charlie Chaplin And Buster Keaton. (2020, July 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
“Comparative Analysis Of The Works Of Charlie Chaplin And Buster Keaton.” GradesFixer, 14 Jul. 2020,
Comparative Analysis Of The Works Of Charlie Chaplin And Buster Keaton. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jan. 2022].
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