Structurally, the film is set as follows
We will write a custom Essay on Film Analysis of ‘One Week’ by Buster Keaton specifically for you
301 certified writers online
- A wedding comes to an end as the couple receives a home as a gift
- An intrusive x-lover spies on them
- They arrive at their new home
- The couple assembles the house albeit wrongly
- They furnish it flimsily due to x-lover’s intrusion
- A storm rages as the couple have a housewarming party
- Someone notifies the couple that their house is built on the wrong side
- They move the house across a railway and the first train barely misses them
- A second train rams into the house; the couple sells their house and leaves the scene together.
The film begins with a wedding scene, in which the bride and groom leave church happily to start their new life together. However, this moment of happiness is interrupted by the mischievous former suitor of the bride. It also happens that he is the couple’s driver as they leave church. Therefore, the first part of the film introduces the audience to possible challenges in the marriage.
The storyteller wants viewers to realize that there is more to the union than meets the eye. Due to external forces and internal flaws, all may not be well for the two love birds. The opening foreshadows problems that will pervade this marriage in the coming days. Even the first phrase says it all: “weddings bells have such a sweet sound but a sour echo.” This arouses curiosity as one would want to find out why the wedding bells create a sour echo.
Similarly, the conclusion also mirrors this beginning; it provides a resolution to the foreshadowed event in the introduction. Due to external episodes such as the storm, as well as interference from the jilted lover, the couple’s house is finally destroyed. Internal forces such as the groom’s gullibility as well as his lack of intelligence also led them to this disastrous ending. Therefore, the filmmaker provides closure to the film by showing viewers exactly why the echoes of the wedding bells have such a sour ending.
Causal motivations in the film thus stem from characters as well as natural events. As alluded in the previous paragraph, the jilted lover offset a chain of events that led to the destruction of the house and hence unhappiness between the two partners. First, he interferes with their intimate moments when he frequently stares at them as he drives.
This causes the groom to try and change cars with little success. He then follows them to their destination and changes the numbers on the portable assembly box. It is because of his interference that the house cannot withstand external weather conditions as well as the occupants’ use.
Likewise, the groom’s character also causes a series of events in the narrative. He is naïve and unintelligent; this is evident when he attempts to change cars by jumping onto a moving one beside them.
Additionally, he tried to move his piano using a rope attached to the chandelier. The latter was meant to act as a pulley but only served to destroy his ceiling. Even when he discovered that his rival is calling for help, the manner in which he tries to pull him out is indicative of his stupidity. One cannot pull out another’s head using a stick as it will break.
Natural events also account for the causal motivations in the film. The storm as well as the train led to the destruction of their home. If the couple had built the house on the right side of the railway track, then they might have salvaged it. The storm twisted everyone around thus flinging them out of the structure.
Additionally, they may have had a better chance if Uncle Mike, who gave the couple the house, incidentally chose a gift that was vulnerable to manipulation. Even the company that made the house should have chosen a better way of illustrating the instructions.
Events in the story take place chronologically. This has been well set out and explained by the filmmaker. Every scene in the film takes place after presentation of the date, and all of the incidents are condensed into one week. A one-page calendar containing the words “Today is Thursday 12” appears right before the day’s occurrences. Of course these dates change as the film wears on. They serve to put the issues in perspective and tie in events as they proceed (Bordwell and Thompson 4).
Duration in the film occurs through condensed events. However, the producer did not leave out key pieces of the narration. Only those things that were irrelevant to the grand story remained unmentioned.
For instance, the audience does not see the couple sleeping during the storm but when they wake up the next morning still seated outside like they did last night, then one can deduce that they slept there. Additionally, no one saw the helpful Uncle Mike in the film, although the audience can deduce that he was there owing to the note he left Keaton and Seely.
Events occur rather quickly in the film and rarely did the film maker repeat them or focus excessively on them. For instance, the wedding occurs on one day, the couple start building their house on another day, they try to make it habitable the following day, and host guests, move it across the railway line on separate occasions.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Since incidences occurred chronologically, it was not necessary to revisit them. Space in the movie is also restricted to the plot of the narration. People in the film do not speak or say anything so the audience mostly analyses their actions on the basis of what they see. Regardless, one may still anticipate what is to come when the couple reads a note from Uncle Mike.
The range of narration in this film is unrestricted omniscient. The audience seems to know everything before the characters do. For instance, when Keaton is about to build his house, his arch rival mysteriously appears, changes the numbers in the box and then leaves without the groom’s knowledge.
The audience thus knows that Keaton will build a contorted house even before he does. Furthermore, when a neighbor informs Buster that he had built the house on the wrong side of the railway tracks, it is easy to anticipate the destruction of the house prior to its occurrence. The audience is aware of the malice behind Sybil’s former lover, as well. These issues affirm the unrestricted omniscient narration that dominates the film.
Objective narration also accounts for the level of narration in the depth of story information. The audience does not go into the characters’ minds. This film, and several others of its nature, does not focus on analysis of personalities. No flashbacks or dreams exist to push viewers into the actors’ subjective world.
Regardless, the calendar dates and notes that appear just before a scene guide the audience throughout the story. Therefore, these serve as uncertain narrators throughout the film. Overall, the production relied on objective and unrestricted storytelling in order to facilitate viewers’ understanding of the story. The writer did not want audiences to get lost somewhere in the narration, so most of it was unambiguous.
This scene occurs on the third day when Buster Keaton attempts to furnish his house. First, he puts a coat on the floor and then covers that coat with a carpet. However, when he realizes that the carpet has a swelling, he makes a rectangular cut around it and removes the coat as well as the rectangular rug. However, now a gaping hole stares back at him, so he introduces a new rug to cover the hole, and then carries away the smaller rug on which he paints the word welcome upside down.
The scene illuminates Keaton’s character quite clearly. He means well and only wants the best for his wife. However, the groom makes illogical choices time and time again thus causing their problems. Buster would have solved this issue by simply lifting the carpet and removing the coat underneath it. Such rationality eludes him as he always seems to select the most difficult way out of a problem. This scene contributes to the humor in the film as picking up the coat would not have demonstrated his twisted creativity.
Likewise, it also demonstrates the flaws of the main character. He often misses what is right in front of him and thus continually lands himself in trouble. For instance, he should have asked himself why there was a lump before mutilating the carpet.
Nonetheless, the scene also shows his motivations; he is a committed husband who only wants to make his wife happy. Life may not be easy, but he often accepts whatever it presents and works around it. Obstacles in most classical films propel the narrative. In this case, the character’s naivety is what creates most of the problems in the story and thus pushes the story forward.
Bordwell, David and K. Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction, New York: McGrawHill, 2008. Print.