Fantasy, Reality, and Filmviewing in Sherlock Junior
Buster Keatonís classic silent slapstick film, Sherlock Junior, is essentially a film about Filmviewing. In the film, Keaton plays a projectionist in a movie theater, and although the narrative is that of a detective story, many times throughout the film our attention is drawn to this film-within-a-film concept.


The most prominent example of this would be the scene in which Keatonís character falls asleep in the projection room, and, in a dream, walks down to the screen and jumps through the picture plane, placing himself in the story. In reality, he has recently been framed for stealing from the girl he so wished to win the adoration of. Naturally, her incorrect accusations leave him feeling helpless. When he steps into the film in the theater he is transformed into a great detective, and is able to live out his fantasy of finding the true thief, and proving himself innocent and worthy of her affection.


What is possibly most interesting about this film and its constant referral to itís form, is how innovative it was. In the year it was made, 1924, a narrative that moved in and out of fantasy and reality, real life and screen life, had never been seen before. It was a trademark of Keaton, something he liked to draw attention to in many of his films. Keaton took advantage of the absoluteness of the pre-determined relationship among camera lens, film frame, and film viewer. This practice has been repeated countless times, by some of the following generations finest directors.