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Buster Keaton returns for new Empress event

VICKI ARNDT – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

The Empress Theatre will screen three short films starring Buster Keaton on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m.

The Empress Theatre is taking a journey back in time with a special showing of classic 1920s silent films with live music performed by Canadian composer and pianist Robert Bruce.
Three short films will be screened Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. starring American comic actor, film producer and writer Buster Keaton.
Keaton was born Oct. 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, to a family already active in the vaudeville theatrical scene. He began performing on stage at the age of three with his parents in “The Three Keatons.”
His father would throw young Buster into the orchestra pit or the backdrops as part of the act.
The rough comedic style led to questions of child abuse by authorities, but no bodily injuries could ever be found on the young Keaton.
The child had learned to safely fall during performances and thus set the seed for a life-long extensive stunt and comedic film and television career that began in his early twenties during the silent film era that later spanned into the sound era that took him all the way into the 1960s until his death Feb. 1, 1966.
“Keaton is well known for his acting and his crazy stunts,” Empress Theatre executive director Brent Hutchinson said. “Like his well known stunt where he stood in front of a brick wall with a window opening that was pushed and fell all around him, he had to stand exactly where the window opening would land or he would have been crushed. Incredible.”
Pianist Robert Bruce has presented more than 300 silent film and live music events since 2002.
“Bruce is extremely well known of his silent film presentations starring the best of Buster Keaton’s films,” Hutchinson said.
Bruce works with only carefully selected 1920s classic films and performs music that interacts seamlessly with each moment of each film.
Bruce is a self-taught pianist who writes music that echoes the style of 100 years past. His music is described as deep, pure and timeless .
The popularity of the silent film “Wings” (1927), with an outstanding performance by world-renowned silent film accompanist Dennis James that took to the Empress screen during the first Aviation Film Festival Nov. 10-11 planted the seed for the Buster Keaton Classic Film event.
This event also ties into the Empress Theatre’s centennial celebrations in 2012.
Audience members will take a trip back in time as they experience 1920s silent films the Fort Macleod residents of the time did with music and the superior films.

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