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Steamboat Bill Jr.

Buster Keaton

The family film Steamboat Bill jr. is the last movie of Buster Keaton from 1928. Buster Keaton fights in his own typical way against his past, he evokes the autobiographical relationship between father and son in both a tragical and comical way.

This partly autobiographical film was the last completely independent one this famous comedian made before he signed up to MGM. In 1898 the three-year-old Joseph Francis – Buster – Keaton was lifted out of his bed by a tornado and ended up smack on the street, though unhurt.

The spectacular storm scene in Steamboat Bill Junior is only one of the references to Keaton’s youth. In this film he laments in a masterly fashion the fact that his relationship with his father went so awry. His father was a variety artist who, from a very early age, imposed on his son all kinds of acrobatics and a hellish working tempo. This is undoubtedly why the characters drawn in this film are more complex and have greater depth than in Keaton’s previous works

BL!NDMAN [sax] gives colour to this moving film with an effervescent original soundtrack by Eric Sleichim based on their particular saxophone language and sound.

Eric Sleichim: artistic direction, concept and composition

BL!NDMAN [sax]
Pieter Pellens: soprano saxophone
Hendrik Pellens: alto saxophone
Piet Rebel: tenor saxophone
Sebastiaan Cooman: baritone saxophone

Philippe van Leer, Xavier Yerlès: bruitages

Buster Keaton Productions, Black and White, silent movie – 1928
Joseph Schenck: filmproduction
Charles F. Reisner: direction
Buster Keaton: main character

STEAMBOAT BILL JR. is a BL!NDMAN production, coproduced by vooruit with the help of the royal belgian film archive.
première > november 1996


29 Apr
Koksijde (BE)
20 Apr
La Chapelle des Franciscains
Deauville (FR)
22 Feb
Theater Hemelhoeve
Brasschaat (BE)
15 Feb
CC Ter Vesten
Beveren (BE)
30 Jan
Dilbeek (BE)
30 Jan
CC Westrand
Dilbeek (BE)
09 May
CC Diest
Diest (BE)
15 Mar
CC De Kimpel
Bilzen (BE)
07 Dec
CC Den Blank
Overijse (BE)
03 Dec
Het Oude Badhuis
Antwerpen (BE)
19 Nov
L'Autre Scène (org. Grand Avignon)
Vedène (FR)
06 Dec
Théâtre des Salins
Martigues (FR)
05 Dec
Théâtre des Salins
Martigues (FR)
26 Nov
Conservatoire du Grand Chalon
Chalon-sur-Saône (FR)
06 Oct
De 4 jaargetijden
Neerpelt (BE)
14 Nov
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
Amsterdam (NL)
01 Nov
De Studio
Antwerpen (BE)
01 Nov
De Studio
Antwerpen (BE)
06 Aug
Collegium Vocale Crete Senesi
Asciano (IT)
10 May
CC De Westrand
Dilbeek (BE)

26 Mar
Brasschaat (BE)
20 Mar
Gent (BE)
19 Mar
Antwerpen (BE)
18 Mar
Voorkempen (BE)
12 Mar
Schilde (BE)
11 May
Brussel - Bruxelles (BE)
03 Feb
CC Strombeek
Strombeek-Bever (BE)
16 Dec
Oorsmeer in Angers
Angers (FR)
17 Oct
Het Depot
Leuven (BE)
08 Aug
Herman Teirlinck Studio's
Antwerpen (BE)
06 Dec
Theatre Mercelis
Elsene - Ixelles (BE)
01 Dec
CC Casino
Houthalen (BE)
22 Sep
CC Het Gasthuis
Aarschot (BE)
21 Nov
Teatro Manzoni
Milan (IT)
09 Feb
CC De Velinx
Tongeren (BE)
17 Dec
The Substation
Singapore (SG)
11 Dec
Tielt (BE)
19 Sep
De Kopergietery
Gent (BE)
13 Sep
World Expo
Lissabon (PT)
30 Aug
Grote Markt (org. Cultuurmarkt)
Antwerpen (BE)
04 Jul
org. Theaterformen Festival
Hannover (DE)
02 Jul
org. Theaterformen Festival
Hannover (DE)
28 Jun
org. Bonner Biennale 98
Bonn (DE)
27 Jun
World Expo
Lissabon (PT)
21 Jun
Tallinn (EE)
13 Jun
CC De spil
Roeselare (BE)
17 Apr
Het Paleis (org. Festival Kunst onder 8)
Antwerpen (BE)
13 Mar
CC Mechelen
Mechelen (BE)
08 Mar
Theater aan het Vrijthof
Maastricht (NL)
27 Feb
CC Muze
Heusden-Zolder (BE)
08 Feb
CC De Adelberg
Lommel (BE)
06 Feb
CC Papeblok
Tervuren (BE)
05 Feb
CC De Ploter
Ternat (BE)
24 Jan
CC 't Getouw
Mol (BE)
23 Jan
CC Den Horinck
Asse (BE)
21 Jan
Leuven (BE)
16 Jan
CC Termolen
Zonhoven (BE)
19 Dec
CC Braine l’Alleud
Braine L’Alleud (BE)
11 Dec
CC Schoten
Schoten (BE)
30 Nov
Vooruit - Oorsmeer
Gent (BE)
28 Nov
CC Lier
Lier (BE)
21 Nov
CC Herbakker
Eeklo (BE)
16 Nov
Audio art festival
Krakow (PL)
14 Nov
CC Westrand
Dilbeek (BE)
08 Nov
Kortrijk (BE)
06 Nov
CC Scharpoord
Knokke (BE)
04 Nov
CC De Kroon
Bocholt (BE)
24 Oct
CC Luchtbal
Deurne (BE)
23 Oct
CC Stroming
Evergem (BE)
21 Oct
CC De Brouckère
Torhout (BE)
19 Oct
Ufa Fabrik
Berlin (DE)
05 Oct
Kortrijk (BE)
02 Oct
CC De Werf
Aalst (BE)
26 Sep
Centre Regional Culturel
Charleroi (BE)
19 Sep
CC Strombeek
Strombeek-Bever (BE)
17 Sep
org. Festival Zeeuws-Vlaanderen
Terneuzen (NL)
10 Sep
Internasjonale Teatergarasjen
Bergen (NO)
01 Aug
org. Klinkers Festival
Brugge (BE)
19 Jul
Salzburg (AU)
03 Jul
Archa Theatre
Prague (CZ)
18 Jun
Ljubljana (SI)
16 Jun
Oerol Festival
Terschelling (NL)
07 Jun
Fundació Aca
Mallorca (ES)
09 May
Brussel - Bruxelles (BE)
23 Apr
org. Festival Kunst Junior
Den Bosch (NL)
21 Mar
Zaal België
Hasselt (BE)
20 Jan
De Warande
Turnhout (BE)
22 Dec
Incontro Azione
Palermo (IT)
21 Dec
Incontro Azione
Palermo (IT)
20 Dec
Incontro Azione
Palermo (IT)
13 Dec
CC Berchem
Berchem (BE)
01 Dec
Antwerpen (BE)
24 Nov
Gent (BE)
17 Nov
org. November Music
Den Bosch (NL)

The story
Bill Canfield, a forceful, authoritative man, runs an old steamboat on the Mississippi. The competition however, in the shape of a brand new boat belonging to the rich banker John King, threatens to ruin Canfield. He expects to find salvation in the arrival of his son, whom he has not seen for years. But Bill Junior turns out to be a pale, dreamy young man (Buster Keaton, of course), who, to make matters worse, is in love with the daughter of the hated competitor. The misunderstandings between father and son at once provide the most comical situations, but soon show the sour tone of Keaton’s painful childhood memories: Bill senior wants to mould his son in his own image, against the young man’s will, who wants to remain himself. The film, always in burlesque style, is moved along by a dramatic state of affairs: the rivalry between the two captains (and fathers), a thwarted love and Bill Junior’s absolute need to rid himself of his father’s yoke. When a devastating hurricane rises (which releases a tornado of cracks and gags), Bill Junior is given the opportunity to gain his freedom and his beloved, with all the necessary anecdotes and breakneck antics. The Man Who Never Laughs here expresses himself to perfection. And with grandeur.


The music
BL!NDMAN probably gets more out of the saxophone than its inventor ever suspected was possible. The four members of the quartet make just as much use of the squeaking springs and tapping mechanisms as of the tonal qualities with which the instrument is blessed. They mould the sounds of the valves into full notes or let plopping and sucking sounds bubble up out of their saxophones in the form of compelling melodies… BL!NDMAN leaves no valve or vibe unturned in the search for a new life for the saxophone. BL!NDMAN once more shows its innovative side in the live accompaniment they are providing for Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Junior. This original composition by Eric Sleichim not only gives us a refreshing new look at the film, but is a worthwhile piece in itself. Apart from the eccentric task of providing sound effects, the saxophone quartet mainly plays a firmly balanced score which, in combination with special effects, results in a tempestuous soundtrack.