Behind the Screen (1916)

Hi all! Today I watched Behind the Screen (1916), which is a short, silent film created by Charlie Chaplin. This was definitely an interesting film for me to watch, as I have surprisingly never seen a silent movie before. This work showed me how movie-making techniques have developed over the past century, as well as how much technology has developed.

Here is a link to the full movie (~25 minutes)

Similar to my thoughts when I watched A Trip to the Moon (1902), I realized how much even the concept of what a movie is has changed over the past 100 years. When I think of how we as a society picture a movie, I personally think of a two hour long show that uses visuals, dialogue, music, and special effects to bring a story to life on a screen. Behind the Screen showed me that this has not always been the case. For example, the past two films that I chose were both under half an hour and they were still considered movies in their time. Nowadays, I think of TV shows, Youtube videos, or short films when I picture a thirty minute long story on screen. I certainly don’t have all the answers as to why this specific aspect of a movie has changed over time, but my guess is that it has to do with the development of technology among other things.

Another aspect of movies that appears to have changed with the times is dialogue. In Behind the Screen (and other early movies), Charlie Chaplin chose to have no dialogue (hence it being a silent film) and instead used intertitles. While no audible words were spoken during this film, the actors’ and actresses’ actions conveyed enough expression that the audience was able to get the gist of it (watch a portion of the movie and then you’ll understand where I am coming from 🙂 ). I believe that the silent film era did an excellent job of exemplifying how sometimes actions speak louder than words!

I also saw another connection to the movie A Trip to the Moon in this Charlie Chaplin film. I learned that in the 1902 film, Georges Méliès, the director, chose to have a stationary camera that stayed in one place and didn’t move throughout each scene (here’s that video). The camera acted as an audience member: audience members couldn’t move about the scene either. When moviegoers saw the films, it was kind of like they were seeing a play. I noticed that Chaplin used the same technique here! I thought that it was very interesting how this technique was still relevant over a decade later.

These were some of the big ideas that ran through my head when I watched this film. I personally enjoyed this movie a lot more than A Trip to the Moon. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the use of comedy in this film or just that the characters in this film seemed to have more of a personality that Méliès’ film. This may not be a movie to watch for a family night (as some people might get bored), but I think this film is a must watch for all of the film junkies out there.

Have a great day everyone! 🙂