Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Three Ages

1923, US, directed by Buster Keaton

Keaton apparently commented that Three Ages was essentially three two-reel films spliced together, although the repetition of certain scenarios in different contexts -- the prehistoric era, Ancient Rome, the 1920s -- is central to the film's effect. The biggest problem is one of quality control: while all three eras have their share of gags, the modern sequence is by far the most polished, with the most spectacular and memorable stuntwork (the football game, the leaps from tall buildings), and each time the action switches back in time I found myself getting antsy, particularly once the intention to repeat each theme became clear. The jokes in the earlier sequences also seem a good deal more obvious at times, almost lazy by Keaton's meticulous standards at times, although that perhaps marks the transition from shorter work to feature films.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States