Buster Keaton, the stone-faced genius of silent-era comedy, at his funniest and most thrilling in an exquisite new digital restoration of the most serenely locomotive movie ever made. Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performing Carl Davis’ excellent score, conducted by Peter Scholes.
For NZIFF’s 19th collaboration with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, we return to one of the wonders of the movie world, in as beautiful a presentation as that world has ever seen. This stunning new 4K restoration of The General, preserved by the Library of Congress, restored by Modern Videofilm and supervised by the Cohen Collection, provides the perfect excuse to screen this film for (only) the third time in NZIFF’s history. Peter Scholes conducts Carl Davis’ classic score.
Many critics consider The General to be the last great comedy of the silent era. It consistently ranks as one of the greatest comedies of all time on international polls. The title refers to Keaton’s engine, ‘The General’, which figures prominently in one of the most harrowing and hilarious chase scenes ever filmed. Keaton portrays the engineer Johnnie Gray, who is rejected by the Confederate Army and then suffers the further humiliation of his girlfriend thinking him a coward. When a small band of Union soldiers penetrate far beyond Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, Johnnie Gray sets off in hot pursuit.
“The General is unique and perhaps perfect. In form and method it is like no other comedy, not even another Keaton picture. Here, uniquely, the dramatic action and the comic business are one and interdependent. You never feel that the story is simply an excuse for the comedy, or that the gags are a decoration planted on the story.
"In The General, however, it is less the gags you remember than the image of the lonely, brave, beautiful, foolish little figure in relentless pursuit of the two things which he loves most and which have been stolen away from him. His relationship to both is passionate and touching. When he is carried off on the driving-bar he has become a part of his machine. And his relationship with Marion Mack is beautiful.” — David Robinson, Buster Keaton
Everything one could wish for: witty, dramatic, visually stunning, full of subtle, delightful human insights, and constantly hilarious.
— Geoff Andrew, Time Out