Saturday, September 26, 2009

The General (1926)

Yes childrens, today I am writing about a silent movie. But it happens to be a very good movie, probably one of my favorite of all time.

Buster Keaton stars as Johnny Gray, a southern train engineer who loves only two people, his train (The General) and Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), and when both are stolen by Union soldiers, he chases after them, straight into enemy territory.

The film isn't really a "plot movie", the film is actually a set piece for some truly amazing stuntwork by Buster Keaton, who climbs all around a speeding train performing various acts of daring. It's fascinating to watch and made even more amazing by the fact that it's all real. No special effects, no CGI, no stuntmen, it's all Buster Keaton.

He's also a great comedic actor. Given that it's the silent era, you'd expect the acting to be more over-the-top, which is what makes Keaton's stoic performance so funny. He doesn't freak out at a set beck, jumping around and going for a laugh, instead he'll just furrow his brow and get to work.

This is a great entry-level silent movie for anyone interested in getting into the silent age of film. It's not dialogue based at all, so you aren't going to miss any talking, since the film is predominately all action, making it easy to watch without even realizing that it's silent. It was my first silent film, and since then I've added a few silents to my Netflix queue (though I've only watched one more, Sunrise, which I've made an entry about).

This film is cited frequently as being one of the greatest of all-time, and I really can't argue with them. Just technically, it's a marvel to watch Buster Keaton do what he does best, and it's also a very funny and expertly-crafted yet simple story. Regardless of whether it's silent or not, this is really a movie that I recommend everyone see, plus, it may be your gateway into the soundless films of yesteryear.

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