Friday, November 18, 2011

What the world needs now is Buster, sweet Buster

My dad--who as always deserves mighty props for introducing Buster Keaton to me at a wee, impressionable age--recently posted this video on Twitter, with the following caption: "Sweet video of the greatest man of the 20th century. Sorry, Gandhi."

Oh god, that smile!

This video really gets to me because, as the maker of this video, theinnerlight87, says, "Many videos have been made documenting the stunts and acrobatic work of Buster Keaton - and rightly so - but we wanted to show Buster's expressive abilities, emotional depth, and prove the nickname "Stoneface" was not necessarily the most accurate." 

Contemporary music set to classic footage can often give one the crankies, but with Buster it's possible to get away with it, because to me he has such a--and boy will this sound cliched--timeless quality about him. Like theinnerlight points out, he's more expressive than people realize. But he's expressive in a more modern way than you'd expect, subtle and underplayed (no handwringing or wide open eyes, like the silent star stereotype). Take the scene at 1:20, for me the single funniest shot in The General. Unfortunately you don't get what he's reacting to in this video, either one of the cars exploding or going off the rails, I can't remember which. He's completely living up to his Stoneface image, except for the blinking eyes. No double-takes, no spit-takes. Brilliant.

But hey, his stunts were great, too. So here's another video compilation, this time emphasizing his acrobatics. It's set to an assortment of Radiohead songs. Pretty weird and random, but it becomes strangely touching as a tribute to Buster should be, even if it's highlighting his stunts instead of his acting:


Another example of why if the tune is right and the images right, meshing music from a later time doesn't jar when making a tribute to someone like Buster on YouTube.


  1. Buster was such a beautiful man. I've been fortunate enough to see five of his films on a big screen with an audience. Those audiences loved them. Absolutely loved them. Much as I love Lloyd and (to a lesser degree) Chaplin, there's just no one else in movies like Buster Keaton.

  2. Vulnavia, I feel the exact same way. Chaplin and Lloyd are wonderful, but again there's something so timeless and endlessly inventive about Buster that resonates anytime, anywhere.

    Louise Brooks once said he had the most beautiful face she had ever seen. Can't disagree.

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