The Buster Keaton Retrospective

One of my undergraduate film professors curates an on-campus educational retrospective each semester, which mainly focuses on a particular director’s oeuvre. I remember approaching him sometime in 2016 to ask if he’d be interested in doing something for BK100, and he seemed thrilled by the prospect. Once 2017 came around, I was delighted to hear that he would be organizing a retrospective for Buster during the Fall semester, and asked if I wanted to co-curate it! Naturally, I said yes.

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Sherlock, Jr.

A few months ago, I may have completely lost my marbles upon seeing that a Buster Keaton film would be screening in my “Television-Film Aesthetics” class this semester—and not just any film either, but the one that got me more into silent films (and Buster) in the first place. Needless to say, I hold it very near and dear to my heart. When I first saw it back in January, it was like watching a narrative interwoven with a seemingly all-too-real magic act. I instantly fell in love with the aesthetics (such a perfect choice for this class) and, well, the wonder that is Buster Keaton in general.

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Sunset Boulevard

Last week, my “Television-Film Aesthetics” class screened Sunset Boulevard (1950), which I was eagerly looking forward to. I had seen it before, but was now able to pick up on the nuances through an academic setting. This film plays with the histories of some of its star-studded cast, and subtly uncovers the artificiality of Hollywood. Before I get into my notes on some of the film’s motifs, I would like to briefly talk about the mise-en-scène. French for “placing on the stage,” the mise-en-scène is purely visual: it includes the entire set, lighting, costumes, décor… the list goes on.

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Top Hat

I’m currently taking a “Television-Film Aesthetics” class this semester, and thought the weekly screenings presented the perfect opportunity to write about some of the films from my notes. This past week, we watched Top Hat (1935) and were encouraged to think about the appeal of a musical in the 1930s. I know there is so much to cover in detail, but I will focus on writing about some of the parts that especially stuck out to me.

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