The Meaning of Comedy Film Review by Quality Writers

The Meaning of Comedy
A review of the films "Sherlock, Jr." directed by Buster Keaton and "Bringing up Baby" directed by Howard Hawks.
# 102293 | 966 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2007 | US

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This paper examines Aristotle's definition of comedy using two classical cinema comedies - "Sherlock, Jr." and "Bringing up Baby" - to illustrate this definition. The paper explains that Aristotle believed that comedy shows people engaged in ridiculous activities, but this ridiculousness is not painful or destructive and the comic action must be without bad intent. The paper looks at how in each movie the lead character is ridiculous, but always portrayed without malice. The paper points out that in "Bringing up Baby", a longer film than "Sherlock Jr.", and one in which sound allows for the speedy development of more characters, the subordinate characters draw heavily on classical models such as Shakespearean figures like Dogberry and Verges in "Much Ado About Nothing". The paper notes that these characters too are ridiculous although not malicious, and clearly inferior in the nonsense they act out, but saved in the end through the resolution of the plot. In conclusion that paper shows that Aristotle's definition is general, even imprecise, but it is clearly a definition which is well illustrated in these two films.

From the Paper:

"These people act without malice. Keaton wants to be a detective, but is outdone by the "sheik," who gets him blamed for the theft of a gold watch, and by his girlfriend, who shows his innocence. In his dream, he is a great, if bumbling detective. Grant tries mainly to avoid Hepburn, but cannot extricate himself from her. Hepburn means well, repeatedly offering to help him get the funding for his museum which is his main hope. Sherlock Jr. begins with scenes of Keaton sweeping the theatre, beset by people who claim to have lost money in his trash pile. The scenes are funny: they show an inferior person, an inept sweeper, being ridiculous. They do little, however, to advance the main plot."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Aristotle, Poetics. Tr. S. H. Butcher. (New york, New York: Hang & Wang, 1961).
  • Bringing Up Baby, dir. Howard Hawks; writ. Dudley Nichols, Harte Wilde; perf. Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant; DVD,RKO Studios, 1938.
  • Masahiro Kitano, "Aristotle's Theory of Comedy: mythos and catharsis." Bulletin of Gunma Prefectural Women's University, 22 (2001) 193-201. Accessed March 4, 2007; available at < /comic.pdf>. Internet.
  • "Origins of Comedy." Dated 2002; accessed March 3,2007, available at /ancient/bates001.html. Internet
  • Shakespeare, William, Much Ado About Nothing.

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