Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra: Buster Keaton's 'The General'

 

Buster Keaton's forte for spectacular silent filmmaking coupled with Carl Davis' seamlessly matched film score delivered with gusto by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra elicited nonstop enthusiastic response from a full house. Produced and edited by Keaton and co-written and directed by Clyde Bruckman and Keaton, the film is a standard boy-loves-girl story set in the midst of the American Civil War from a Southern point of view. That may explain the public's lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter in 1927. We now accept the alternate POV and a shade of dark comedy while relishing Keaton's daredevil stunts and his masterful mechanical gags, cinematic illusion and comic chaos. Based on real events, the story portrays Keaton as fictional engineer Johnnie Gray, whose two loves are his train, The General, and the lovely Annabelle. How the two diverge and ultimately get on track is the stuff of sterling filmmaking. There was applause for projectionist Eric Grayson and conductor Kirk Trevor for synchronizing the elements. And a bit of comedic wonderment grew from the percussion section - we waited to hear if the sound would precede, follow or actually occur with the action.

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