Monday, November 20, 2006

Buster Keaton: Genius

What makes a good entertainer? There is an obvious answer to this question, but it might not be so easy considering not many today (in the entertainment field) have it. What mysterious quality am I getting at? Skill. A performer has to have some unique skill to awe and wow their audience. A comedian has to have the skill of being funny, among other things. An airplane pilot has to have the skill of operating an aircraft successfully. A chef has to have the skill of creating delicious meals. A detective has to be able to solve the case. I could go on, but I think my point is pretty clear.

Today we are in the hayday of amatuerism, and the technology revolution. What Buster once did with a high level of mastery, would not involve him at all. They would use his name, water down his original idea, do any special stunt with a 3d program, and then composite it with the original footage. Can you imagine how terrible Sherlock Jr. would have been if executives had been there contributing to the ideation process, or anything at all? Of course, it took about eight years into Buster's solo career for non-creative people to take over his control and demean him in the film world. Why are "creatives" as some executives say, treated like they are a problem to be dealt with? Instead of, oh I don't know, encouraged to be true to their nature and be amazing, if not genius.

Here are some clips from Sherlock Jr. toward the end of the dream sequence. Be amazed too, for all of it is real, and notice the camera work while you're at it. Can you think of anything as spectacular from the last ten years of film or even the last 40 years?

Buster teaches himself in about a couple of hours how to ride a motorcycle on the handlebars.

Real dynamite.

Buster swerves in the nick of time to save his girl from being accosted.