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GO WEST

USA, 1925 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Buster Keaton

In a novel twist on the romantic comedy formula, Buster Keaton stars opposite an affectionate cow in this warmhearted Western farce that demonstrates Keaton's skill at pathos, without lessening his own aptitude for epic slapstick: stampeding cattle wreaking hilarious havoc in a pioneer metropolis!

When Buster Keaton completed Go West in 1925 could he have realised that the mastery of his pioneering filmmaking techniques and comedic talent would render his films fascinating cinema over 70 years later? Light years ahead of his time in camera and editing methodology, stunts (often extremely dangerous and performed by Keaton himself) and the choreography of action. Go West is still as lively, crazy and screamingly funny as the night it opened. The protagonist is a lonely soul - aptly named Friendless (Keaton in the lead) - who finds work on a cattle ranch way out West. While the other men are off being fearless, dusty, sweaty and macho, Friendless finds a soulmate in an devoted cow named Brown Eyes. The two share moments, equally touching and humourous, as Friendless waits for Brown Eyes to milk herself. His devotion edges toward the absurd when Friendless attaches antlers to Brown Eyes' head so she can defend herself.

Typical of Keaton's signature style, he mixes bone-dry sentiment with supremely clever gags. Keaton - born to a family of acrobats known as The Human Mops - was perhaps the only person living at the time capable of completing the astonishing feats of flexibility and comic timing depicted in Go West. Moving beyond slap-stick, Go West typifies an ambition determined to shatter all the expectations of early cinematic.

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