Today: April 22, 2024

Three Ages

Rated: 5/5.
Bottom line: A joy.

Cast: Buster Keaton, Margaret Keahy, Joe Roberts, Wallace Beery.
Directors: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline.
Format: Special edition blu-ray.
Certificate: U.
Run time: 70 minutes.
Languages: Silent comedy, with English intertitles.
RRP: £22.99.

Buster Keaton’s Three Ages celebrates its centenary with a brand-new blu-ray release. Long thought lost, Eureka’s latest Masters of Cinema release comes from a stunning restoration completed in 2022 by the Cohen Film Collection.

Three Ages was Buster Keaton’s first foray into making full length feature films—and he wrote, directed, and starred in the feature, which spoofs D.W. Griffith’s historical epic Intolerance. 

Like Intolerance, Three Ages follows multiple narratives across different times, which Keaton packs to the brim with incredible stunts and hilarious visual gags.

Across three eras–the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, and ‘modern times’–Keaton competes for the love of a woman (Margaret Leahy) whilst having to defend himself from a bully intent on stealing away his lady love (Wallace Beery).

Despite the incredible work of the restoration team, do remember that this is a one hundred year old black and white, silent movie. It won’t appeal to everyone. Yet, there’s so much here to enjoy. Like Monty Python, Keaton revels in the absurd, in quiet subversion, and cheekily poking a tongue at authority. He’s also, of course, the master of physical comedy, and the stunts—done by Keaton himself, without the aid of SFX—are staggering. 

Three Ages isn’t perhaps his best work, but it is still a joy to watch. All the more so for the fact that this is a film which was rescued, restored, and saved for posterity, by people who love film as much as we do.

Special features include:

  • Limited Edition slipcase (first print run of 2000 copies only). 
  • 1080p presentation on blu-ray from a new restoration by the Cohen Film Collection. 
  • Reconstructed original intertitles. 
  • Brand new audio commentary by film historian and writer David Kalat. 
  • This Side of Impossible–brand new video essay by David Cairns.
  • Under the Flat Hat—brand new video essay by Fiona Watson.
  • The Six Ages of Comedy—brand new featurette based on an essay by .
  • Brand new interview with Ian Lavender.
  • Man’s Genesis—1912 short by D.W. Griffith that is parodied in Three Ages. 
  • Video essay on the film’s locations by John Bengtson. 
  • Archival recordings of Keaton. 
  • A collectors booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp and Imogen Sara Smith.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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