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Published on Jan 13, 2007
From The Play House (1921), directed, written and produced by and starring Buster Keaton. Score by Robert Israel.
There's no trick photography; "Keaton in effect split the screen into nine fragments, one for each minstrel, "courtesy of a custom-designed shuttered lightproof casing that fit over the camera. . . . To create the minstrels, the shutters simply were opened one at a time, with the film rewound in between. However, mechanical precision was not enough. It took the steady arm of cameraman Elgin Lessley -- the human metronome -- to crank each exposure at exactly the same speed. And then -- to achieve onscreen synchronicity -- Buster had to give nine flawless, identical performances. . . . One slipup -- by anyone, on any take -- would ruin the strip of film, and with it all the previous work". ('Tempest in a Flat Hat', Edward McPherson, Newmarket, 2005)