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“The General” 4K Restoration Premiere at TCM Classic Film Festival
It’s safe to say that Buster Keaton’s 1926 classic The General is one of the greatest films of all time. It ranks at #18 on AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list. Roger Ebert noted that Sight and Sound placed it on its top 10 all-time list. Generations of audiences have watched and come to love this Keaton classic. And now they have good reason to fall in love with it again.
The Chinese Theater audience watches the opening credits of The General. (photo credit: Edward M. Pio Roda / TCM)
This past Sunday April 28th, the Cohen Film Collection’s gorgeous new 4K restoration of The General closed the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival. Lines stretched down Hollywood Boulevard to get into the famous Chinese Theater for this closing night event. TCM’s Robert Osborne introduced the film in front of a packed theater audience. (Earlier in the weekend Osborne interviewed Cohen Media Group CEO Charles S. Cohen for a segment on the cable channel, which you can watch here.)
The audience reaction to The General’s restoration was remarkable. From the film’s opening shots of a steam engine chugging along in the Civil War South (shot by Keaton in Oregon), murmurs of approval spread throughout the theater. The image was as crisp and clear as any black and white film shot today. The clarity of the image not only made it feel like the audience was transported into the past, but it made the film feel contemporary as well. Live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra set a perfect tone for the film. By the time THE END flashed on screen, the audience took to its feet with applause.
The Alloy Orchestra performs live accompaniment for the film. (photo credit: Edward M. Pio Roda / TCM)
We at the Cohen Media Group couldn’t have been more proud of the evening. We’re thrilled to bring such a beautiful restoration of this classic film back to audiences. The TCM festival was only the first of many big screen showings. We’re proud that The General has been selected for the 2013 edition of Cannes Classics as part of the Cinema de la Plage at the Cannes Film Festival. That screening will be the world premiere of the 4K restoration with a new original score by Carl Davis.
The audience takes photos of the Chinese Theater interior after the screening.
Finally, we note that Hollywood’s famous Chinese Theater is about to undergo a major renovation. Its new owner, TCL, will install stadium seating and widen the screen, among other updates. We feel it’s only appropriate that The General was one of the very last films to screen there before the theater is modified. The Chinese Theater originally opened in 1927 — the same year that The General saw widespread theatrical distribution across the US.