Quotation by Frank D. McConnell

Much has already been written of the uncanny ways in which Chaplin and Keaton seem to divide so much of the world, so precisely, between them. Charlie the sentimentalist and Buster the ironist, the dancer and the acrobat, the critic of capitalist society and the deviser of happy-ending Edens outside of society—all these distinctions are well-known and important. But the most richly creative difference between these geniuses is in their language—not the language in their films (how wonderful it is that they are forever silent) but the language that their films make real. For Chaplin the space of the world is always and insidiously dangerous, perhaps even murderous. For Keaton, that same space is, breathtakingly, his toy.
Frank D. McConnell (b. 1942), U.S. educator, critic. The Spoken Seen: Film and the Romantic Imagination, ch. 3, Johns Hopkins University Press (1975).
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