The One Buster Keaton Film You Need To See

Buster Keaton came out with many films throughout his career, but which one is the one you really need to watch?
Image Source: Medium

With no doubt, Buster Keaton's film, The General, is the best film he'd ever made. The action, the stunts, the cinematography, the sets, it was all incredible. 

Buster Keaton was born Joseph Frank Keaton on October 4th, 1895. His parents were traveling performers, and at the age of four, he joined them on stage. Keaton was thrown around the stage by his dad, trampled on, and kicked into the audience for laughs. Harry Houdini, who traveled with Keaton and his parents, gave Keaton his life-long nickname, Buster, after he had a nasty fall down the stairs, but was not injured during the fall; Keaton wasn't "busted up" like Houdini said he should be.

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Buster learned at a young age that the jokes were not as funny when he smiled at them, but the audience did think them more amusing when he did not react to them; this is how he became to be known as "the great stoneface." In his films, he never smiles; he always has a serious, almost emotionless look on his face. 

Buster became an actor for films after meeting Fatty Arbuckle and also became Arbuckle's chief joke writer. He was soon given a personal production unit, the Buster Keaton unit, and started making his own films as writer, producer, director, and lead actor. 

The General

This stunt was made up as he went. image by: giphy

In 1926, Buster set out to make his masterpiece that would be called "The General." This feature-length film, set during the civil war, portrayed a confederate railroad engineer setting out to rescue his lover, who the Union had kidnapped.

This film used 3.7 miles of film (I think that is so interesting!).

Today, The General is recognized as one of the greatest films ever made; indeed, Buster Keaton's masterpiece. However, when it first came out, it did not get the same reviews. The audience thought it was "the least funny thing he'd ever made." It was considered a failure. The film's budget was $750,000, but it barely made back $475,000 in the box office. This caused Buster to lose his independence as a filmmaker; his production company, United Artists, told him he'd have to have a production manager to monitor and control every film he made to ensure the production was as cheap as possible. 

Fun fact: the most expensive shot in silent cinema history was in this film 

Nowadays, old movies are fun to watch and see how cheesy and funny they are. Even more recent films, films with sound and color, can be fun to look back at. Silent films, however, seem to have been left in the dust; no one wants to watch a silent film these days.

But think about it; these films told an entire feature-length story with almost no words (they would use title cards). How cool is that when you really think about it? Being able to tell a story in an entertaining way in silence...that's pretty impressive, to say the least.

It's hard for people nowadays to watch silent films because they have no dialogue and that makes it seem so disinteresting (I think it makes it more interesting). 

Why bother watching silent films at all?

"These movies laid the foundation for everything Hollywood gives us today. So watch them and appreciate them."(Jason Hellerman).

If you truly are a movie lover then you should watch a few silent films. These films were the original products of this art form we call filmmaking. It is so interesting to see how things were done when they had limited technology to work with. Silent films should be appreciated.

Why Do You Need to Watch The General?

The reason you need to see this silent film is not only because it is a classic, but also because it is still considered to be one of the best films ever made (this is including films made today). This film was revolutionary. Keaton was able to tell a story that wasn't all just crazy stunts and jokes, but a real serious story that had a real plot (still with stunts and jokes, of course). 

Keaton created an absolute masterpiece with The General and it should still be recognized today. 

You can even watch the film on YouTube! Check it out below.

Nonbinary creative writer who wants to change the world.

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