Why Buster Keaton's the OG of Physical Comedy

What do Jackie Chan, Wes Anderson, and Bill Murray all have in common? The influence of Buster Keaton.

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23 November 2015, 2:25pm

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Even if you're a Charlie Chaplin diehard when it comes to early silent comedy, briefly consider the arguments film essayist Tony Zhou presents in his latest video, Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag. Zhou points out the timeless pranks, techniques, and tricks that continue to be recycled and revamped by contemporary masters of cinema, including Wes Anderson, Jackie Chan, and Bill Murray, both in front of and behind the camera. 

Keaton's flawless deadpan delivery and playful attitude toward geometry are hallmarks of contemporary indie filmmaking. He invented the endlessly replicated falling house gag, and did all of his own stunts with remarkably little cinematic trickery. His "most famous rule," Zhou points out, was to "'Never fake a gag.' For Keaton, there was only one way to convince his audience that what they were seeing was real. He had to actually do it." As usual, being authentic is the best way to win hearts, and Keaton was one of the best of the best.

Buster Keaton vs Wes Anderson

Buster Keaton vs Jackie Chan

Buster Keaton vs Bill Murray

See more of Tony Zhou's film essays on his Vimeo Channel, or in our coverage below.

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