Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Buster Keaton in 'The General'

**SPOILER ALERT**

Have you ever watched the 1926 silent film The General starring Buster Keaton? Some view this film as one of the best in history. The story revolves around Johnnie Gray (Keaton) who loves two things in life: Annabelle Lee and his train (The General). When Union spies steal his train with passenger Annabelle Lee, Johnnie must fight to save them.

While this film does not contain a score of its own, many distributors over the years have set it to various musical selections. While some are quite tasteful, others are absurd and unrelated. Below you can view the film in its original, silent form. Do you think the film stands on its own without music or do you think it would help enhance the plot to have some sort of music?



A random or inappropriate score affects this classic film and does it a disservice. A thought-out score, however, can add quite a bit to the onscreen action. I recently viewed a release of The General that allows viewers to choose one of three scores to accompany the film. One is symphonic, the second is derived from traditional silent film scores, and the third is for organ. Below you can view a trailer to The General with music accompaniment. Do you think it adds or takes away from the plot?



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