Three Ages (1923) Review

Three Ages (1923) Director: Buster Keaton


Three Ages is the first feature length picture (1 hour+) to be written, directed, and produced by Buster Keaton. It is an amusing spoof of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, an epic silent film which was told across several different epochs in history (read my review of Intolerance here). Apparently, the studio did not have a tremendous amount of faith in Keaton. If the project flopped, the studio planned to break-up each short tale into a separately released film. Three Ages stars Buster Keaton and Wallace Beery (who later became an MGM star).

The first part of Three Ages takes place during the Stone Age, the second in Ancient Rome, and the third part in the modern world (in the roaring twenties). Each epoch shows the consistency of love throughout the ages, and in each case Margaret Leahy plays the love interest of old stone face. In Ancient Rome, Keaton finds himself in an amusing chariot race scene that is a prelude to Ben-Hur. The funniest of the three is the modern age which features a highly memorable stunt scene of Keaton jumping across roofs, through windows, and into a car chase.

Three Ages is an entertaining picture though certainly not my favorite Buster Keaton movie. Some of the film has been damaged beyond repair unfortunately but restoration efforts have been quite extraordinary.

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