Buster Keaton, like Chaplin, has marked the comic cinema of its footprint. The master of burlesque offers us, with THE MECHANIC OF THE “GENERAL”, one of the greatest films in the history of the 7th Art.
The absolute master of the burlesque, Buster Keaton has always sought, in his cinema, to tie its narrative threads, often minimalist, in a context historiographical carefully chosen, and vigorously de-constructed during its representation as a comedian. We can cite for examples the triptych in time (prehistory-roman era-prohibition) in The Three Ages (1923), as well as the Wild West in My Cow and I (1925). With THE MECHANIC OF THE “GENERAL” (1926), he decides to explore the universe of the War of Secession in the United States (1861-1865), with a rigorous sense of detail and an inventive film that is rarely matched, as the impressive mastery of the parallel montage.
Johnnie, a railroader unstable and quite clumsy, has mixed feelings for his locomotive and his sweetheart, Annabelle Lee. Pushed by the enthusiasm of love toward his beloved and tender, it short-sign up for the army of the south (who represents the states segregationist). To his chagrin, and despite his many attempts that cause the first bursts of laughter, it is not accepted, because we judge that it would be good to keep mechanics on hand. Followed a ” double chase “, where misunderstandings and waterfalls intertwine, with officers of ” the Union “, army progressive union led by Abraham Lincoln, through the rails and desert landscapes in rural areas.The camera , Keaton moves a bit – with enough use is limited in the dolly. He, by contrast, is constantly in motion. Scientific placement in the frame, genius, pathos, mime, and humor ” tongue-in-cheek “, it enshrines the train like a playground of fun – especially at the stage of the canon –, a runway show where the clown with curly hair and receding hairline us away as in a dream, carried by a music choreography of Joe Hisaishi. It concludes at the end of a final scene extraordinary, where Keaton gets to unite, in a last gasp comic, two themes resolutely separable : love and war.
One could assume that the geopolitical framework in which Keaton has decided to place his character is only a pretext to account for his comic capers, with gags expertly prepared and use always extremely humorous objects such as bits of wood, shoes, bags, boxes… However, it is not difficult to see, in this parody grotesque and picturesque of the war, a universal message of peace.
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• Achievement : Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
• Screenplay : Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
• Main actors : Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
• Release Date : 9 August 2017 (exited)
• Duration : 1h15min