and what exactly is a dream?
a few days ago on facebook, when posting this song, i tried to write a bit about my feelings and general views on the life and works of Buster Keaton, but after a few minutes, said to myself “why bother?” and just hoped the song would speak for itself. i don’t know if i’ll even manage here.
there’s something about Buster Keaton that just goes beyond slapstick humor or silent movies. there’s the obvious physical humor taken to it’s extreme, all the stunts in Buster’s films being performed by himself (he would even be the stunt double for many of the other actors), since there was very little technology and no special effects at the time. it’s still extremely impressive and almost hard to believe when you see the stunts. but there are other sides to Buster Keaton’s films that get me even more. a more well known one is the sweet melancholy so often found in his films (reinforced by his signature stoneface), but more personally i’ve always been fascinated by the dream quality that some of the films, and in particular, specific scenes have (some of them could almost be classified as surrealist), one classic example being the movie theater scene in Sherlock Jr. or this tribute video that compiles many dreamlike moments, set to music by my friend Golden Ego. another aspect, that is much much harder for me to explain, is the “twisted universe” that the films take place in. everything is written and happens for comedy, but if you put the comedy aside, it’s almost looks like something out of a Kafka novel, Buster just can’t get anything right, has no luck in basically anything he does or tries, awkwardness and humiliation are ever present, a lot of the characters are awful/mean to him for absolutely no reason, nobody gets spared from the mayhems that happen, all these awful things happen because… comedy. and yet some of the situations portrayed have a shocking familiar effect on me, as though i’ve lived similar moments, and/or shared the same feelings. i can’t say this happens for other movies, and yet we’re talking about films from the 20’s/30’s here.
(i also love how no one represents “fuck the police” more than Buster Keaton. never seen so many cops chase after one man, it almost makes GTA look soft)
the story of the man himself is, of course, fascinating also, but i think wikipedia, imdb or any documentary will do a better job at this than me, such as this one (about the making of a wonderful little travelogue short for the National Film Board Of Canada). the part that mostly gets me, is how you can build your own empire, and a production company where you have full creative control over the masterpieces you are creating, and lose everything you had in a few years by signing with a studio, where you have no creative input, to the point where it turns into an alcoholic.
anyway, back to the song. since Buster Keaton’s films are silent, and most of the time the soundtracks are somewhat obnoxious (i usually like to add a personalized soundtrack when watching them), it didn’t involve samples like most of the songs on my forthcoming album (hopefully done by the end of next month), and relies entirely on composition. 2 chords, a repetitive piano loop, that goes slightly out of hand and all over the place from being altered, cut, stretched, filtered… with rhodes lines that stabilize the pace a little, and bring out a more emotional side. nothing else used.
now go watch The General or something.