Introducing Buster Keaton’s Epic Comedy: The General (1926)

March 21, 2014 by Simon Kinnear in Introductions, Opinion with 0 Comments

Can comedies be epic?  In the latest of my series at Derby QUAD on films you need to see on the big-screen, I will be introducing the ultimate proof that they can: Buster Keaton’s classic silent comedy The General.

Before the rules of screen comedy were established, Keaton didn’t think twice about spending lavish amounts of money on death-defying stunts.  The General, commonly regarded as his masterpiece, is a jaw-dropping chase movie revolving around the titular locomotive.  Set in the American Civil War, it’s an excuse for Keaton to stage elaborate set-pieces on the move, finding humour in vehicles and gadgets and culminating in the chaos of a pitched battle.

With a huge cast that includes 500 extras from the Oregon National guard and immaculate period detail, this was one of the most expensive films of its era, and its commercial failure was the beginning of the end for Keaton as an independent filmmaker.  Viewed today, however, it remains astonishing – as exciting as it is hilarious.

Join me at 4pm on Sunday, 23rd March, to share the joy.  Click here to book a ticket.

Previously on Epic!
Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
The Searchers (1956)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Aguirre, Wrath Of God (1972)
Cleopatra (1963)
JFK (1991)
Gone With The Wind (1939)


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