If for 364 days (365 in a leap year) we are supposed to tell our spouses/partners/life companions/buds that we care, on Valentine’s Day we are supposed to show them that we mean it. It’s the holiday of grand gestures (read: purchases); the holiday where words aren’t enough. In short, everyone turns into Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and goes about yelling: “Show me!” So there seems no nicer way to celebrate love than silently with Buster Keaton’s short films.
Toronto is a bit of a hotspot for silent film in Canada, so it’s fitting that just in time for the most romantically commercial of holidays, Trinity-St. Paul’s Church will be transformed into a chapel of love, where three silent short films by by Buster Keaton will be screened. They’re all about (you guessed it) love and romance. The programme will feature Neighbors (1921) and The Balloonatic (1923). The third film remains unannounced at the time of this writing (mystery, the great seductress).
Despite having the nickname “The Great Stone Face” due to his deadpan style of acting, Keaton’s performances are undeniably moving and tender. Whether it’s his love for The Girl (Kathryn McGuire) in Sherlock Junior or Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) in The General, Keaton expresses a warmth that lies somewhere between sincerity and naivety. Even in his later films, when his face was marked by the passage of time (see the Can-con production par excellence The Railrodder), Keaton continued to exude a timeless humanity.
Of course, silent film is never, and never was, really silent: live piano accompaniment was always part of the tradition. Pianist Robert Bruce will perform his original compositions while the films roll. So don’t just talk about it. Go.
TICKET INFO: Tickets are $15 regular and $12 students/seniors.