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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Movie Review: The General (1926)

Remember when I said I wanted to see the looks on my kids faces while they watched a Buster Keaton film? Well, I've seen some of them now, and I have one word: priceless.

A little bit of backstory: We wanted to do something to celebrate the last day of school. (Benjamin's first ever last day of school!) Our plan was to have a family movie night and watch The Lego Movie, which we have heard so many good things about. But it turned out that it wasn't available to rent yet. While I was determining whether or not we could rent the Lego movie, Levi and Jubilee went to bed. I had mentioned to Jacob earlier that I wanted to watch The General with Benjamin, so he turned it on.

Unfortunately, Benjamin was still dead-set on the Lego Movie; and, he couldn't quite grasp the concept that it wasn't available yet. So he began watching The General with a bad attitude -- whining and begging us to turn it off. That only lasted the first 5 minutes or so. I can tell you for certain that he was squealing in delight by 11 minutes in. Benjamin loved the physical gags that Keaton is so famous for.

I appreciated the drama of the situation: our hero is a railroad engineer, visiting his sweetheart in Marietta, GA. Just as the two lovebirds are cuddling up on the sofa, the Civil War breaks out. Johnny goes to enlist in the confederate army, but is rejected by the army and doesn't know why. His girlfriend is misinformed and believes he never tried to enlist -- the relationship is on the rocks. Well, of course he goes on to be a hero in the war effort and make amends with his love. The whole movie builds toward a spectacular train wreck -- literally.

It's a great movie to watch now -- I can only imagine how awesome it was in 1926, when it was released. The stunts are thrilling and funny: I admit to exclaiming in alarm at one of the stunts Keaton does. The dialogue was great. "Wait . . . what? I thought it was a silent film!" you say. It is. But I about died laughing at the line, "If you lose this war, don't blame me!"

We were reading the title cards to Benjamin of course. He is a good reader these days, but reading them out loud was a way to get him engaged early on when he wasn't so thrilled to be watching. It also helped that the film was set in Georgia, and that we had driven through Marietta only days before. How cool is that?Occasionally we narrated the action for Benjamin, but not much once he got into it.

In short, this was a great family movie, made even more fun by my having read Bluffton, by Matt Phelan. We totally loved it!

Have you seen The General? What are your favorite old films? I'd love some recommendations.

5 comments:

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  2. I have never EVER seen my kids laugh so hard at a movie as they did when watching The General for the first time. Buster is brilliant and timeless :)

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