03 November, 2013

The General




[23/6/14 - Another copy of "The General" bites the YouTube dust. Here's yet another version.]

[20/3/14 - Well, these things happen: The version of "The General" that I discussed below has come off of YouTube. Fair enough. I've replaced it with another version, that lacks the Hisaishi soundtrack.]

In 1926 Buster Keaton made the silent movie, The General. (Yes, I know it says "1927" in the YouTube frame above.) The movie is on just about every critic's list of the greatest movies of all time. Mine too.

The "General" is a train and Keaton is its driver. It's set in the South at the start of the American Civil War. It has romance, comedy and adventure. The trains in the film were real and the stunts were ridiculously dangerous. The movie was hugely expensive at the time.

In 2004, the French reissued a remastered and repaired version with a new musical score by Joe Hisashi, the brilliant Japanese composer, conducting the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra.

The version embedded above is the remastered/Hisaishi version in its entirety. I wouldn't have come back so soon to foist another movie on you, but this is a special case. The film is in the public domain, but the new score is not. I have no idea how long it will remain up on YouTube. Do yourself a favour and watch it —then go out and buy a copy.

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