Hello! Since I still feel that we’re in Days of Covid, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring ways to watch movies at home.
I just ate my lunch while watching a classic silent film “The General” (Buster Keaton) on a local Arts television station. I’ve seen bits of this one before but never the whole thing in one sitting. Thoroughly enjoyable, but then I love the way silent movies use expressive gestures and camera angles to convey what’s being said and felt. I especially love Keaton’s magnificent timing for the stuff that he pulls off. I was continually saying (out loud, because who cares?) “Omg, how’d he do that?” I mean, there’s only so much you can rehearse; there’s still huge chances of getting hurt. I caught myself wondering how many “takes” it took, though I’ve read somewhere that he did most of his stunts in one take. How many times can you wreck a train?
The overall plot is about a young train engineer in the South who accidentally gets caught behind enemy lines during the Civil War. He learns of a plan by the North to attack a Southern post and tries to get back (dragging his girlfriend who was captured) to warn them. The things that go wrong for both him and the Northern troops are what makes the entire film so enjoyable.
The pure enjoyment for me is the “one damn thing after another” movement of the film. It’s what Kelsey Allagood says on her Writer Unboxed post about throwing chairs down in front of your running protagonist — meaning obstacles. And this movie never runs out of chairs! I need to throw down more chairs for my current protagonist — she’s got it far too easy!
Maybe one strange thing for modern generations is that you find yourself rooting for the Confederates — who lost the war. But the movie is IMHO visually and plot-wise brilliant. Tonight I might try to catch Hitchcock’s “The Lodger” at 6:30p, though I have seen that before. I will absolutely try to catch “The Mark of Zorro” (1920) and see how it compares to Tyrone Power and Antonio Banderas, but it’s at 10:45pm. The sacrifices we make for art!
So don’t worry about life throwing chairs down to block your path. It will all work out in the end, and hey! It’ll make a great story!