Valuable Content from Cinema

        Throughout the semester we watched several movies in class. Some of these movies were foreign films, while others were made here in the United States. Of the films shown, the two that were the most valuable to me in the form of context of cinematic history were Gold Rush and Duck Soup, which we watched in the same night, and Bonnie and Clyde.

        Gold Rush was one of Charlie Chaplin's most famous movies; it was also his personal favorite of all the movies he made. This film showed the classic type of film he made, which was silent except for the narrator. Chaplin made several movies throughout his career, and most of them were silent. When he started making movies in the second decade of the twentieth century, sound was not an option; but, as he continued to make movies into the 1930's, sound became an option. Despite this new option of sound, Chaplin generally chose to not utilize the new technology. I found this movie to be very valuable to me in a cinematic context for several reasons. I had seen a few silent films before this, but I had never known there were silent films with narrators. I had also never seen a silent comedy, so I was able to learn and see how differently the actors were forced to be in order to make scenes comical, versus the way it is now when a comedian can just say something funny with a straight face and get laughs.

        Duck Soup with the four Marx Brothers was also a great learning experience for me that I consider to be very valuable from English 313. As I was a child growing up, my grandfather used to talk about Groucho Marx and how funny the brothers all were, but I was never able to experience one of their movies until this semester. I can see why they were so popular because of their witty sarcasm and fun atmosphere, which really had not been combined in films before. I consider this movie to be valuable in respect to historic cinema because of this sarcasm and atmospheric combination. I was able to see how this form of comedy was slowly phased in after Charlie Chaplin had started making movies, but were being made when Chaplin was still making movies. From this movie, I was able to see how the technological advancements were being put to use and how well they worked. I was also able to learn when many things were considered to be appropriate for cinema and able to compare them to movies made years later.

        Bonnie and Clyde was obviously a lot different from either Gold Rush or Duck Soup. Bonnie and Clyde was not only a love story but also a story filled with suspense and comedy. I found this movie to be very valuable in teaching the concept of cinematic history for me because it shows more differences than ever in the types of movies being made to entertain audiences and what kinds of comedy was used and needed to keep the audiences interested. This movie showed me that, over the years, there was more and more sarcasm being considered acceptable for audiences to hear and more things allowed to be seen; such as intimacy between people. I found this valuable simply for the tremendous advancements of technology used, from better lighting, sound, props, costumes, as well as many other things.

        These three movies are the three that I feel were the most valuable for my learning experience this semester in class. I have always enjoyed comedy films and truly enjoyed each of these. I liked being able to make comparisons between Gold Rush and Duck Soup, although there was not a tremendous amount of technological differences. The comparison I was able to make between Duck Soup and Bonnie and Clyde was great. I was able to see how much film making had advanced as well as what was socially acceptable as compared to the past. What made the comparisons even more interested was comparing Gold Rush to Bonnie and Clyde. There were advances in all forms of film making, which made each one an entertaining learning experience, which I consider to be valuable to me and helps me appreciate the history of cinema more than ever before.

Amanda Saunders

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