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Buster Keatons, Our Hospitality (1923) is one of the few films o the silent era that still has a prominent place in the history of cinema. The repeating motifs , the misc-en -scene and the cinematography are three aspects that just set this movie

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Name - Suyash Reddy Yellasiri

UMID-9866121

GSI - Peter Alilunas

Class - SAC-236

The Canfield Mansion

Buster Keaton’s, Our Hospitality (1923) is one of the few films o the silent era that still has a prominent place in the history of cinema. The repeating motifs , the misc-en -scene and the cinematography are three aspects that just set this movie apart from any other film of the silent era. In fact, these very aspects are what prompted ace Indian film director, S . S. Rajamouli to make an adaptation of the movie in Telugu (an Indian Language) almost 100 years later.  

Misc-en-scene in this film needs a special mention and sets and setting perhaps are the most important parts of the misc-en-scene . The scene that starts with Willie coming into the Canfield’s mansion and ends with him slyly walking up the stairs to stay there for the night is the scene of interest. The Canfield mansion set was brilliantly designed . The enormity of the house can be seen during the scene when Willie first tries to get out of the house and the Canfield brothers chase him across the porch while firing shots. The grandeur of the house is shown in the form of a huge gun rack, chairs with great detail, curtains (probably made of velvet) and the huge dining table. The house is also very big with high ceilings and elaborate furniture that tells the audience that the Canfield’s are a typically rich plantation family and the black slave just adds to this fact. The set was made in such a way that most of the scenes were dependent on natural light. This fact is upheld by the fact that most of the scenes we are interested in are shot near French doors and windows. The enormity of the house also serves the purpose of belittling Willie and also gives the audience about the gravity of the events that are going to unfold. This sense of belittling is seen even with the case of the physical structure of the  Canfield’s who are much bigger than Willie . In the scene after dinner, the placement of chairs just before entering into a room and right next to the door are very important to the story because it reminds the audience that we are watching something set in the 19th century and not in the 20th century because there was a drastic change in the placement of furniture and the detail of the furniture between the two centuries. The presence of the black slave , the grandeur of the house and the general placement of furniture supports the costumes of the actors in the film  in conveying to the audience that the plot takes place in the 19th century. This placement of chairs also serves as a prop for the lead actor to infuse comedy into the scene. The contrast between the relatively grey walls and floor of the house and the very dark color of the furniture provides the audience with a feel-good vibe even though the movie is centered upon murder and an underlying feud. This contrast again highlights the costumes of the two Canfield brothers who are dressed in a similar contrast with one of them wearing a grey suit and the other a black one. The other way to look at this feature of the set could have been to show how Willie comes to town with the hope of something good happening to his life and things just keep turning towards the dark reality of him even being killed. The presence of a gutted bird in the background and a huge rifle rack conveys to the audience that the Canfield’s were very able hunters and knew how to use their guns very well.

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