I find it amazing how well this movie has aged. Having watched it now for the first time I found myself genuinely laughing, being amazed and feeling sympathy for these characters, especially Keaton's. Even though I am not yet too familiar with silent comedies, I still found many of the gags to be both creative and funny. I can't say I've found any drastic flaws in this film, but I know I was entertained till the end.
Essential cinema. Keaton's civil war set tale is one of the best films of the silent era. Memorable sequences throughout and unlike many of Keaton's films it is consistent in telling its story. Impeccable timing and planning throughout. My personal favourite scene though is the twig for the fire.
This is the first silent film that I ever loved. What do you get when you combine train chases, brilliant action, laugh a minute slapstick, and some of the most gorgeous cinematography ever shot? Why, The General obviously. This movie is timeless. I mean, yes, it's a civil war movie which ignores slavery, AND is told from the South's perspective, which is a fair criticism, but it still deserves my five star rating.
Masterpiece. Buster's courageous anti-hero is an outstanding character only comparable to Chaplin's tramp. Keaton -a phenomenal athlete- is a master of slapstick and his comic wit was also only rivalled by Chaplin at the time. In The General everything falls into place precisely to deliver one of the best comic efforts of the silent era. Buster's never drawn by riches or fame but his love for his girl and engine.
Detached from sentimentality. stonefaced Keaton is noble, blue-collared everyman, resistant in the technological impetus of machine and courageously active in the chase for personal love (of either engine or woman). Comedic premises are calculated with detailed wit and dignity while backdrop of the civil war and the great American landscape, photographed with Brady-esque authenticity, roams freely in counterpoint.
9 - While not quite my favorite Keaton (Sherlock Jr. just barely edges it out), from both a conceptual and a concrete perspective, "The General" is undeniably the titan's masterpiece. His complete control of both his props (TRAINS!!!) and his backgrounds is still breathtaking and, 90 years on, he is still proving that no amount of processing power can out-stage an ingenious ex-carny with balls the size of planets.