Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The General

A southern engineer has two passions in life: his sweetheart and his prided eponymous train. Thoroughly dejected and humiliated after being spurned, first by the Confederate Army, then by his Annabelle Lee he seizes upon an opportunity to serve the Rebel cause and win her back when Union troops pilfer his second love. Buster Keaton's The General has been roundly heralded as the silent master's greatest work, and his creative genius and belabored craftsmanship are certainly on display as he plays defense and then offense while chasing and retrieving his locomotive, but to pigeonhole the movie (even in its category as an all time great), I think, has the result of placing his other superlative films on the back burner. That being said, this is a marvelously funny film with seemingly impossible and purportedly authentic stunts. The cinematography is also noteworthy, having been modeled on Matthew Brady's Civil War photographs and hailed by historians as the best of its kind.