Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Happy Birthday Buster!

October 4th, 1895- February 1st, 1966

Today would be his 111th birthday! I am celebrating this moment with a blogpost in his honor rather than doing what I wished I could have done. I wanted to visit some of the Los Angeles spots where he filmed: Chinatown, the old downtown, the new downtown, in Hollywood, Pasadena, USC, Newport Beach etc. What I wanted to do most was visit his grave, here in LA at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Plot: George Washington Section, Court of Valor, Lot 5512 GPS (lat/lon): 34.14472, -118.31762. Here's a picture someone took!

Maybe next year I can find some fellow Buster admirers and ride around LA going where Buster and his crew went, seeing what they saw, well not exactly what they saw.

Yesterday a friend of mine saw just one scene from Sherlock Jr. in one of her classes and was blown away. She ran to me super excited to know more about him, and what to watch. I love that moment, when in your life you see something for the first time, something amazing, and everything changes afterwards. Whether it be a cartoon, a film, a song- there are hundreds of things and moments one could probably name. I wonder if that feeling translates over to being a teacher? Putting on a Buster film to an unsuspecting crowd of students, then watching as their faces light up with joy and amazement, at least that is how I imagine it.

There are plenty of films, cartoons, tv shows etc. that have taken some influence from Buster Keaton, but never would I have thought that the biggest Buster enthusiast in today's cinema would be a Chinese guy! Jackie Chan, before he could even read English he had his office lined up with book after book about Buster, he could look at his films and probably understand everything he needed to! I do not know that much about Chan, or his films, but what I do know is that film after film of his will have some sort of Buster gag directly lifted from any given movie. The other day my teacher gave me a film that is directly inspired from a scene in Sherlock Jr. The film is called Accidental Spy, it is what I assume is a typical Jackie Chan film, a cop movie. I did not watch the whole film, but just the inspired scene, which was hilarious probably more so because I recognized how he interpreted gags that Buster did. Maybe he started some sort of interest in Buster overseas, because another chinese film, more specifically a Hong Kong film(there is a difference between HK films and mainland China) was Kung Fu Hustle by Stephen Chow. Where ever he is being celebrated does not matter, as long as he still is being remembered!

So here is my official salute: Thank You Buster!!!

UPDATE! Here's a YouTube video that shows some comparisons of Buster and Harold to Jackie Chan: