Buster Keaton is one of those names that even those who aren’t well versed in silent cinema will recognise. Alongside Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton was an iconic actor, writer and director who managed to envision the kinds of cinema set pieces that were years ahead of their time and just as impressive when viewed today.
Especially considering how little went into the special effects. However, through the use of camera trickery and Keaton being the best special effect of all, Buster Keaton became a unique and unforgettable performer during the Roaring Twenties.
The Great Buster is a documentary written, directed and narrated by director Peter Bogdanovich which charts Keaton’s life meticulously from his early years in his family Vaudeville show to his untimely death in the mid Sixties.
Throughout the documentary, Bogdanovich tells the story of one of his idols leaving no stone unturned as every facet of Keaton’s life is explored from his incredible success to his spiralling career and alcoholism that developed once he lost creative control.
Along with Bogdanovich are other famous film makers and actors that all talk lovingly about what an influence Buster was on their own work, with some surprises such as Quentin Tarantino and Werner Herzog. Split into two halves, the second half of Bogdanovich’s documentary lets the silent movie star speak for himself as the audience are treated to the best bits of Keaton’s finest work.
Lovingly restored and preserved for everyone to see from ardent fans to those who just want to see what made the man and his work so great, the clips from some of his most beloved film are sure to raise a smile.
Gliding through all aspects of Keaton’s life, the documentary doesn’t really have the time to settle down on one thing and it would have been nice to have heard a little more from its talking heads. However, the joy on their faces when talk about what an impression Keaton made on their careers is enough to make the audience want to look back at their work as well as Keaton’s to see if they can see the join.
A master of the silver screen that pushed boundaries of not only cinematic wonder, but also pushed the limits of his own body, The Great Buster is a documentary that encapsulates Buster Keaton’s story with love and admiration.
For those fans who think they may have seen everything Keaton had to offer, this documentary may even show fans a little bit more.
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