So, the big project started yesterday, on July 1, 2017. I posted a Mission statement on my website and looked at what films I have access to which I can watch this week. I haven’t told anyone of the goal I’ve set for myself. Not even my wife. When she finds out through social media I hope she’s not too annoyed.
One of the biggest obstacles to the success of the project is getting access to these 150+ films because a lot of them are very old and hard to find.
And because I want to do them based on groupings, I want to watch the groupings: ‘bang’ ‘bang’ ‘bang’, all in one week.
I looked at my spreadsheet and had a dozen different options for Week 1: the three great Eisenstein, Chaplin, Wilder, Visconti, Kubrick, Bergman, Bunuel, Lang, Ford, Scorsese, Coppola, Fellini, Welles or Hitchcock films, but I didn’t want to start with something too obvious or too heavy. So, I chose Buster Keaton. I’ve a collection of his silent films, and the one that came up again and again on the list of the best films ever was, The General (1926). I’ve seen the film two or three times before and always thought it was funny and very clever. I haven’t seen it since I was probably in my mid-twenties (which was about a hundred years ago).
The pre-conceived notion I brought to this film was that Buster Keaton is one of the great comedians and this is a comedy. I settled down to watch something that would make me laugh, or at least chuckle. Disturbed by the fact my laughing gear weren’t engaged, I was in shock as what I saw unfolding was something far more serious than I expected. Life categorizes things and sometimes a general feeling in the media or amongst friends about something, becomes a legitimate thought as if it is a fact. And my pre-conceived perception of this film was that it was going to be funny and exciting, with a series of cleverly engineered close-shaves. Partly this is my own fault as my childhood memory of the last sequence is so vividly that it coloured my memory of the entire film.