What is this about?
Just finished watching it and need to let it distill for a bit.
Meanwhile, I have some observations but unsure just now about how they all fit together.
Buster is avoiding eye contact. Mostly to avoid inflicting trauma to others who might catch his "evil eye". First it's people. Two folk on the street are horrified to see him, then an older woman faints (or dies) at the sight of him.
Later it's animals, a dog and a cat. Then a bird. Then a fish. He's working his way down the line of sentience. He does draw the line at inanimate objects -- in particular, the rocking chair which has some carved features in the back that resemble "eyes". A couple times Buster examines the seat and seems to hesitate, then evidently decides against covering up the chair's "eyes".
There are also "eyes" in the cardboard satchel that he opens. Three times he's about to untie the cord that wraps around two buttons and is reminded by these circular orbs that he needs to tend to covering up the eyes of the bird and the fish.
So does he want to protect someone from seeing him? Or is he protecting himself from being seen?
He certainly doesn't want to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He is very careful around the window, but I assume that is to avoid being seen by others outside, not so much to avoid catching a reflection of himself.
He certainly detests the photograph hanging on the wall of a Sumerian god -- a statue with gigantic eyes staring back at him. He rips it down and stomps on it.
And finally there is the artful camerawork which follows Buster around, but never catches a glimpse of his face. We the viewer are protected from him, by happenstance it seems. Once when he nods off in his chair "we" begin to sneak around to peer at him but he wakes up with a start and turns away to see what's going on.
Finally the old man falls asleep. The camera spins about the room. Until now it has vacillated between objective and subjective Points of View, varying at times between our view of Buster and viewing through Buster's eyes. But now in the end the camera is looking down upon Buster's sleeping face for the first time ... and it is neither our view nor his. But both. For we are looking through his eyes at himself. Buster looks up and gazes with horror at .... himself.
(What the hell?)
Finally the old man buries his face in his hands.
Oh, and he's been wearing an eye patch all along. FILM ends as it begins, with a close-up on Keaton's wrinkled eyelids opening and closing on his one single eye.
Then there's all that business where he keeps checking his pulse. That coupled with his review of (and destruction of) the contents of the cardboard satchel, which turn out to be photographs that chronicle the highlights of his life ...
It seems he's summing up his days. And is bitter about it ... (as he prepares for his death?)
A little off-topic:
Was this one of the great man's last films? I've heard that it was a difficult shoot, given he had to stomp around the heat of New York City in the summertime wearing a heavy overcoat. And was he yet feeling the strain of the lung cancer which would later take him?
Given FILM's eerie subject matter, these may have been very strange days for Mr. Keaton.