The Navigator

Buster Keaton is one of those great directors where almost everything he does is required viewing. Having enjoyed The General and Our Hospitality, I decided to give another one of his films a try. This film is centered around a ship that a revolutionary group is bound to destroy. They send the ship out to sea in the dead of night, but it has our hero (Buster Keaton) and his scorned lover on it. They get into all sorts of sheninagins that result in them eventually falling in love with each other and getting off the boat at the very last moment.

I found this film to be pleasant in its gags. There are several ones that stand out to me including when he is trying to cook for the first time and the underwater scuba scene where he battles an octopus. One of the best gag in terms of ingenuity involves Buster trying to find his lover after being on the ship for awhile. The camera slows down so it looks like the characters are racing at exhorbantly fast speeds in order to find each other. There are several shots of Buster going up when she is going down and so forth, but it is done at such a break neck speed that they never end up crossing each other except at the very end.

Like the General, The Navigator comments on man vs machine archetype. He fetishes the various mechanizisms in the film and makes them work and not work for him in various comedic moments. He seems to be fascinated with dealing more with the machines (and its various helpers: ropes, pots, etc.) than he is with the girl.

The scuba diving scene is one of the funniest things that I think he has ever done on screen so far. During this time scuba suits were insanely cumbersome and consisted of large metal things in both the bottom and top of your suit. In other words inherently funny. Once he puts the suit on, he falls down to the bottom of the ocean and tries to fix a problem with the bottom of the ship. He gets tangled up in a scrap with an octopus and a swordfish. All of these things are hilarious.

I found this film to be very pleasant. Although it wasn’t as good plot wise as The General, I still had a good time watching it.


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