Three Ages [Import]
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A brilliant historical satire teeming with inventive flourishes, Buster Keaton's "Three Ages" (1923, 63 min.) is a silent comedy of truly epic proportions. This clever parody of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" follows Buster's hard-luck romantic misadventures throughout world history: from the dawn of man in the Stone Age through the gladiator arenas of Ancient Rome to the city streets of the American Jazz Era. Accompanying "Three Ages" on this DVD are two rarely seen short works: "The Goat" (1921, 25 min.), with Buster mistaken for nefarious gunslinger Dead Eye Dan and caught up in a prolonged slapstick-filled chase, and "My Wife's Relations" (1922, 25 min.), a comedy of domestic turmoil that seems to reflect some of the tensions between Keaton and the Talmadges, his real-life in-laws at the time.
Buster Keaton's feature debut as a director (he shared credit with gagman and longtime collaborator Eddie Kline) spoofs, among other things, D.W. Griffith's Intolerance with a look at the trials of true love through the ages. Buster plays a hapless suitor in three different epochs: a bearskin-wearing, dinosaur-riding caveman in the Stone Age; a meek centurion with a ragtag chariot in ancient Rome; and a jazz age Romeo in Model T and black tie. In each time period, he vies for the object of his affections with burly, barrel-chested Wallace Beery, matching Beery's brawn and underhanded dirty tricks with sheer energy and ingenuity. The diminutive deadpan comic is hilarious under a shaggy fright wig and cartoon club as a thoroughly modern caveman, a dwarf among giants at the mercy of romantic Darwinism, but the more inventive sequences belong to the later ages. The rousing chariot race of the Roman segment is topped by a gymnastic chase through dungeons and throne rooms, and the modern section is capped by a mad flight from the police while he rushes to rescue his girl. Three Ages lacks the dramatic unity and sustained creativity of his later masterpieces, but the inventive gas and clever crosscutting turns what could be three individual shorts into an interactive live-action cartoon. Also included are "The Goat," a frantic "mistaken identity" knockabout comedy, and "My Wife's Relations," in which Buster finds himself accidentally married into a family of bullying Irish Catholics. --Sean Axmaker
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Top Customer Reviews
In the historical time periods, much of the humor is derived from having anachronisms in the form of modern conveniences: the Caveman Keaton plays golf with a huge rock club, and the Roman Keaton has a sundial watch. It's a pity that these sort of gags would be endlessly ripped off in later films, as it does take a little of the shine off them here. Still, what may not seem fresh anymore nonetheless remains amusing.
I liked this movie even though there isn't too much in the way of Keaton's noted physical comedy. There are a few jokes that rely on him bouncing in and out of things, but to a far lesser extent than usual. There are some impressively large-scale sequences (I'm thinking of the rock battle, the chariot race, and the football game) that had me grinning. This is a film that is more amusing than it is laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Also included are two short films: THE GOAT and MY WIFE'S RELATIONS.
THE GOAT contains two staples of the short films of this era. Jokes about being hungry, and people running away from the police as fast as they can.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is one of the Bus Man's lesser known, but certainly not lesser works.
Three Ages is a tad jarring at first, because the three tales of romance mix ups criscross between... Read more
THREE AGES is Buster's first feature where he has creative control. This is three shorts within a feature. Many great moments in each of the "Three Ages". Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2001 by Brother Frank