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T500FC, 413th: College (James W. Horne, Buster Keaton, 1927)

March.26.2011

College is a film that gives us the ingenious ideas for films provided by Buster Keaton where he picks up a set of skills and turns them into something useful. It is one of those moments where majority of the film is a just a big set-up and eventually gives us a one giant satisfying ending. This is one of Keaton’s films where it is usually forgotten but could do a stand-off with the current films or TV episodes of the same genre.

Buster Keaton stars as a semi-forgettable academic student where he eventually ends up in college. With his supposed intelligence, a lot of students hate him for being so straight and more so during that era, jocks are often praised by the whole school body. Keaton falls in love with a beautiful girl and tries to woo her. The thing is she likes muscled boys and Keaton finds himself trying out the different sports in the school hoping she notices him. He ends up with something that is unexpected getting the girl in the end.

This is actually the anti-set-up of a film. Partly predictable, we are pied pipere’d in Keaton’s world where he tries to be the loser once again. One thing that makes me smile in this film is even if the film is not a talkie; the visual explanation of the story is comprehensive. And making me smile even more are the various required slapstick movements by Keaton.

If we’ve seen this film when it came out, we’d surely be impressed, probably with the way the story was told. It was one of those moments when the main lead starts off as an antagonist and eventually gets the liking from the audience. I know that being academic is not wrong but you’d surely hate the high regards of one’s self which was effective in Keaton’s part.

As much as possible, I usually play it down whenever I watch really old films. It was fun with the anti-predictability of the film. I still saw myself staring at the monitor, once the climax has started. It was as if, every little thing that one can’t do would be discovered in just one sitting. Much like what we usually fantasize about in our daily lives making this film an effective fantasy, more over that it might give a slight possibility even for ourselves.

This is the first of the four Keaton films that I watched today. This first one is satisfying enough that it made me crave for more Keaton films. The next bunches are a bunch of shorts. This one having the longest in terms of time among the four.

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