Saturday, October 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Buster

October 4 is Buster Keaton's 113th birthday. I admire many film makers and artists, though for some reason, Buster's birthday sticks in my head and the others don't. I think that John Ford was born in August and I have no idea what month Chaplin was born. Walt Disney, Walt Kelly, Howard Hawks, etc. -- I couldn't tell you what day they were born if my life depended on it.

Rather than try to figure out why, I'll just guess that something about Buster is important to me in ways that the others are not.

If you've noticed a slow-down in posts here, you're not imagining it. My teaching schedule is heavier now than it's been in the past. I'm also animating on a personal film, which is taking up time. This blog is feeling the effects. Besides, things seem pretty quiet on the animation front. The elections and the economic news are sucking up a lot of oxygen and there haven't been any major animation releases or controversies to stimulate discussion. Perhaps that will change as we get closer to Christmas and the holiday films are released. Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

I adore Buster and I am constantly learning so much from his films. They demonstrate elegance, simplicity (even when they are incredibly complex, they APPEAR simple and often the humor comes from finding a simple answer to a complex problem), perfect and inventive gag structure, and are unendingly funny, no matter how many times you see them. Who else from that era makes people laugh and gasp even in our jaded times? there is a reason modern audiences connect to Buster moreso than to Chaplin or Lloyd (much as i love those two).
But more than anything it is the consistency of Buster's work that astounds me. In the 20s, when he was in control of his work and his destiny, he had a streak of creativity and genius unparalleled. Even his worst film from the era- short or feature- is head and shoulders above almost anyone else. What MGM did to him is tragic. But he doesn't age. The General and Sherlock Jr don't diminish with time or repeat viewings.

Michael Sporn said...

You can remember that Walt Disney was born on Dec. 5th because that's the date that OJ Simpson will be sentenced.
Somehow Buster Keaton's birthday always remained in my mind as well. His film always meant something to me, too.

pspector said...

It's no secret that many animators whose careers began before WWII loved Keaton. Whenever we'd go to Cal Howard's house he'd break out the projector and show 'em.