Buster’s back at his brilliant best

Buster Keaton's The General SUS-150202-095154001
Buster Keaton's The General SUS-150202-095154001

Restoration of films has become a fine art and it’s no surprise when a much-loved one of the past is re-released on digital with crystal clear images.

Even so, audiences at the Curzon Cinema on Wednesday, February 11, may well be surprised by the Eastbourne Film Society offering of Buster Keaton’s The General, made in 1926. In this digital restoration, with a special orchestral soundtrack by Carl Davis, the film looks like it was filmed yesterday.

The superb quality of images is recommendation itself, but the film’s appeal goes far beyond that. Buster Keaton, one of the screen’s finest creators of comedy, may have been at his peak in the silent era, but his subtle humour is as brilliant as the best of Jacques Tati. Furthermore, Keaton was famous for his skill (and recklessness) in doing his own stunt work.

The General is a thrilling recreation of America’s Civil War period. Keaton is a train engineer (The General is his locomotive) and the highlights are two chase sequences - one in which Keaton tries to recover his stolen engine seized by the enemy with his girl on board, the other him trying to get back home with a warning of the enemy’s plans.

A scene of a train plunging to destruction was not done with model effects but was the real thing.

Seats are available for the public.