The General

Remember that migraine that I had on Thursday? I still have it. I spent a while today trying to decide if I was ready to brave the ER to relieve this pain, but the thought of sitting for what would basically amount to 3 more days with the migraine just waiting in the ER, I decided to stay home and turn the volume way down on my TV and the lights off and do what I was supposed to do - Watch The General, a 1926 silent comedy, starring and co-directed by Buster Keaton.

It was almost soothing to my headache. More so than just sitting around lolling about in pain. It was funny and charming and adorable and at least it was a really pleasant distraction. Buster Keaton got really poplar for a while in more recent times, because his silent comedy translates very well. He doesn't over-act or pull stupid faces for the camera. He is funny, but he really doesn't show too much emotion or facial expression. It works really well, and I think a lot of modern viewers really like this. It's easier to relate to it because it looks more like comedies we watch today.

The movie is about Johnnie Gray, a train conductor, who loves his train and his lady, Annabelle Lee. The civil war starts, and Johnnie rushes off to enlist to please her. He is deemed more useful driving trains than fighting, and Annabelle Lee, told by her father and brother he didn't even try to enlist, says she will not speak to him until he is in uniform. Later, he is driving a train that she is taking to get to her father, which is stolen with her on it. He then goes to great lengths to get her back safely. 

I read on Wikipedia that Keaton did all of his stunts, which is pretty hardcore. He did some insane all while looking mildly bemused. I also read that the infamous scene where a train crashes through a bridge isn't a model like a thought, but an actual train crashing through a bridge , and the wreckage of the train stayed in the river until World War II, when it was collected for scrap metal. Fascinating!

I can't talk more about this movie because I want to loll around in pain and wait for my vicodin to kick in. This movie is free on Hulu right now, and streaming on Netflix. It's short, only an hour and fifteen minutes, and it's really worth watching. I love Buster Keaton - his acting style is incredible and charming and perfect. I love him even more knowing he did his own stunts.

If you have seen this movie, or you watch it, tell me what you think in the comments! When I'm migraine-free, maybe we can have a discussion together instead of a big blog post like normal, eh?

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The General
Watch it on Hulu!
(this is the first, if not the only, silent film on Blu-Ray)

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