Sunday, September 8, 2013
SHERLOCK JR. (1924)
This film is almost 90 years old, yet its entertainment value has not began to decay. Timeless may be a good description. This is largely in part due to the carefully choreographed stunts, physical comedy, and editing techniques that creates laughs, excitement, and surreal visual effects. One scene in particular that I will analyze is the "pool table scene."
In this scene, the thieves plan to kill Sherlock Jr. by making him hit an explosive cleverly disguised as a 13 pool ball. The thief demonstrates by throwing the ball out the window and the camera then cuts to a separate scene of a vague object hitting the ground and exploding. This way, the producers of the film were able to get the message across without actually building a 13 ball grenade. They then invite Sherlock Jr. to play a game of pool. Sherlock Jr. manages to hit every single ball with expertise without ever scraping the 13 ball. He hops over it, grazes mere centimeters around it, hits the balls touching it, etc. The thing that makes this impressive is the still camera angle showing this all in one shot. This decision was wise because it shows you that the expert-level pool playing is real and not just "movie magic" with lots of cuts and different angles.
I loved this movie. The stunts were genius and entertaining. The editing pushed the limits of what movies could do (i.e. the scene where he jumps 'inside' the movie screen, or the scene where his dream ghost exits his body). An influential piece of cinema for sure. 4.5/5