‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’
(written on a wall frame hanging on Canfield home)
My fourth Buster Keaton film and ‘the great stone face’ again made me bow my head for his unique spirit and unparalleled contribution to silent cinema. With moments of fun, romance, action, adventure and thrill it spreads so genuine entertainment even after almost century of its making. The film is Keaton’s satire with a plot of family feud that ran from generation to generation. Men of one family grew up killing men of another family simply because their forefathers had done so. The Canfield and McKay family killed the key members of each other’s family as film begins. After death of his father in feudal tussle, the baby Willie McKay grew up at his aunt’s home, unaware about family feud. Twenty years later a full grown Willie returns to indulge in a romance only to ignite the spark of old vengeance with loads of action, adventure and fun bringing moments of ‘the real motion picture’.
Perhaps in the history of cinema none of the professional actor performed adventurous stunts with such a sense of timing and daring caliber as Keaton. If you feel ‘The General’ is brilliant example of Keaton’s talent, watch this one which is almost a never-to-miss net practice of it. What’s another adorable quality apart of his self performed awesome stunts is the way he brought authenticity of machines in his cinema used as brilliant props. Whether it’s 1830’s first pedleless bicycle or the model of first locomotive 'Stephenson's Rocket' here, he represented curious inventions and rare artifacts of last century’ on screen from the their still confinement of museum and gave them motion like none other.
For all those Keaton fans, here is load of brilliant moments to witness. If the journey of train with adjustable tracks, bumps and curves followed by pet dog is just fun odyssey than his climactic stunt around waterfall saving his girlfriend is something as historical to the motion pictures.One of the best Keaton film.
A cinema beyond ratings.