For years, I have marveled at the comedic talents of Rowan Atkinson, especially showcased in the classic British comedies Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Thin Blue Line, not to mention films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral. For all the greatness that comes from his “talking” roles, for my money, I have always loved the brilliance that comes from his silent portrayal of Mr. Bean. When you think of the silent era greats, names such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy immediately come to mind.
What I love is that, through Mr. Bean, Atkinson has found a way to make their visual and physical comedy style accessible to a 21st century audience that is constantly swept up in a day and age of both dialogue heavy parts or “how do I top this” special effects instead of the simple equation of good writing + good acting = good comedy.
It never dawned on me until recently the similarities between Atkinson’s Mr. Bean character and the genius that is Buster Keaton. This cut together swimming pool sequence below, shows you just how close they are in talent and style, which is strikingly similar, although Rowan Atkinson had the luxury of being in the 21st Century to where he could create a much better ending that Keaton probably wasn’t allowed to do at the time.
Keaton was a genius talent, as was Chaplin. But Rowan Atkinson isn’t far behind. Anyone beg to differ? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?