There’s no doubt that Buster Keaton is a silent cinema comedy icon, but his legacy extends beyond laughs and gags. In his career, he pushed the boundaries of cinema and left a trail of innovation that influenced generations of filmmakers. On camera, Keaton excelled at practical gags with his athleticism and comedic timing. As a director, Keaton constructed chaotic sequences, infused with a clockwork narrative rhythm. That cinematic form and creative ambition is what separates Keaton from other filmmakers. He risked everything, in front of and behind the camera, to fulfill his crazy cinematic dreams. This video examines Keaton’s directorial use of motion and stylized form, and how he operated within the frame, as a performer, to complement (or contrast) the narrative message.

Watch Now: The Buster Keaton classic, The General.

Can’t get enough of our “Icons & Outliers” series? Then check out our thoughts on the work of John MalkovichSteve CarellSandra Bullock, and Jim Carrey.