The Great Buster: A Celebration is exactly what the film’s title says it is. Writer-director Peter Bogdanovich‘s 2018 documentary celebrates the life and career of the great Buster Keaton. While Bogdanovich’s doc touches on Keaton’s life, it’s far from a warts and all piece and it mainly focuses on his fascinating and brilliant career as one of Hollywood’s leading silent movie stars.
The Great Buster: A Celebration is a deeply engrossing documentary which is loaded with breathtaking (and gloriously remastered) footage of Keaton in all his glory. Bogdanovich intercuts these cinematic gems with a series of eclectic talking heads from people who knew Keaton and those who adore his work. Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Johnny Knoxville, Quentin Tarantino and Cybil Shepherd (amongst others) pop-up to praise the great silent movie star, who helped transform the art of cinema.
Keaton just wasn’t an actor – he was a one man filmmaking machine – a director, producer, screenwriter and stunt performer. The physicality, poise and choreography of his performances is simply stunning. Keaton’s kinetic work shows the pure unadulterated power of cinema.
Told with a voice-over featuring Bogdanovich’s trademark droll New York tones, The Great Buster charts Buster Keaton’s beginnings as a vaudeville star with his family to his Hollywood rise, his fall and ultimate reappraisal before his death in 1966.
A film which will fascinate those who love cinema as well as those who know nothing about the art form’s silent era, The Great Buster: A Celebration is a wonderful tribute to one of the true masters of cinema. This needs to be seen.