Monday, November 7, 2011

Buster Keaton, Samuel Beckett And Film

Did you know that Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett collaborated on a film together? No, me neither, but as I discovered over at Pretty Clever Films, they did, in 1965.

The result, called Film, was undoubtedly the strangest entry in the Keaton canon. I won't explain it to you—because I can't—but it has something to do with Bishop George Berkeley's philosophical idea, "esse est percipi" ("to be is to be perceived"), proposed in 1710, which I think means that there is no objective reality, only our perception of reality, and that apparently when we leave the room and stop perceiving it, reality dissolves back into the dew of our ideas.

Or something like that. I'm strictly "a chair is a chair whether I'm there or not" man, myself, so I don't really buy into any of this. But there's a bit in the middle of the film involving Buster, a dog and a cat that is definitely more Keaton than Beckett, so I found this 17 minutes worth watching.

You may decide otherwise.

Appropriately, the film was completely silent.


Pretty Clever Film Gal said...

You make some excellent points about "esse est percipi." Like so many things Sam Beckett, I enjoy the work very much until someone tries to tell me what it means, and then my eyes glaze over.

But I was surprised and delighted by this gem. The whole thing is interesting, and it the bit with the dog and the Keaton is very Keaton. That's refreshing to see from 1965 Keaton... the man still had it.

Mythical Monkey said...

Keaton was a true artist, I think. It was great to see him reaching for something even at the end.