Ferrua, Pietro

Cops

A film by Eddie Cline and Buster Keaton

Communication. FilmsPoliceFERRUA, Pietro (Piero) Michele Stefano (1930 - ....)MÉLIÈS, Georges (Paris, 8/12/1861 - Paris, 21/01/1938)

USA, 1922

silent B&W, 18 mn.

WRITING CREDITS: Edward F. CLINE and Buster KEATON

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Elgin LESSLEY

EDITING: Buster KEATON

PRODUCER: Joseph M. SCHENCK

PRODUCTION CO.: FIRST NATIONAL PICTURE INC.

Since the very beginning of the 19th century, the “seventh art” has depicted anarchists using bombs. Great filmmakers, such as Griffith and Méliès, have indulged in this vision. The reasons for this phenomenon include the following:

a) The perceived need to demonize a particular group for all the evil in society, for example, the “stinky Negro”, the perfidious Jew”, “the Yellow peril”, today’s “terrorist Moslem”. History has always found someone to blame;

b) before the birth of combative workers’ unions, or the development of a current of non-violent anarchism- from Proudhon through Tolstoy to Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, until today- anarchists believed in propaganda by the deed and in its legitimacy against systematic repression and in its value as an instrument of liberation.

Keaton and Cline collaborated on writing script, directed the film and played a role in it. Cline played the role of the “anarchist bomber”, while Keaton acted as the powerless man fighting against powerful people.We, the filmgoers, are unaware of the author’s message behind this short slapstick comedy. Nevertheless the film contains probably best police chase of the history of cinema. The result is a highly amusing experience that is full of surprises and does nothing to tarnish the reputation of law enforcement officers or anarchists . It would be particularly suitable to show this film during a Mayday celebration when, in the streets of Portland, anarchists and police sometimes play a more dangerous game of “cops and robbers”. In this Keaton-Cline masterpiece, policemen are (for once)on the losing side, and the sheriff has to yell: “Get some cops to protect our policemen”.

Pietro Ferrua