A jaw-on the floor masterpiece, and, believe it or not, one that doesn’t really take off and fly until the last 20-25 minutes—so you can imagine how good those last 25 minutes are
There are three parts of this film that set it above virtually everything else in cinema history: the last frame, which I’ll get into more detail below, is an all-timer, of course the justifiably famous surreal backdrop montage is a standout, as is one of the all-time chase, long shot, motorcycle sequences
A really impressive opening shot alone in a movie theater, a long shot (of course)—Keaton would call back to it with the church shot in Seven Chances– another really strong frame- the next year
Keaton’s third feature and first masterpiece, at age 29—staggering the ramifications and influences of this film
After that first shot, it starts slow, love the gag of Keaton giving his girl a magnifying glass to look at her ring- haha
Another of Keaton shadowing his rival and catching the cigarette butt he flips over his head in-step, and smoking
Repetition throughout his oeuvre- – the train gag- certainly Keaton as auteur—it is in almost every film—even two years before The General
At the 17-minute mark—transcendence, the surrealism- Bunuel, Cocteau, Lynch epic moment- trick photography as he sleeps, dreams out of body and then leaps up onto the screen—certainly it’s Purple Rose of Cairo from Woody Allen. Before Keaton leaps the audience and screen is in long shot in the entire frame—mise-en-scene.
That montage—Keaton’s editing work— the lions, almost getting hitting by the train, falling off a cliff… hilarious, ingenious and technically stupefying
At 22 minutes Keaton tracks the camera forward so it takes on the full screen of his dream – he’s now a renowned detective.
Keaton’s deadpan—an unemotional daredevil, yet still a romantic is so different than Chaplin’s epic pathos
A meditation on the nature of cinematic realism, 4th wall, meta—postmodern–form breaking brilliance
The stunts are shot in long shots often without breaks—the zaniness of the finale, bedlam—his bike smashes into guys playing tugs of war, the perfect synchronization of the bridge with the two vehicles covering the gap lining up at the same time, and then the breathtaking shot of the camera sitting shotgun as he almost hits the rapidly approaching train on his left diving right at him—wow
One of my favorites- Jeffrey M Anderson from www.combustiblecelluioid.com says it is the best film
At minute 41 Keaton wakes up- pops out of the dream
The conclusion is one of cinema’s finest— the window for the projector acts as a frame, a transcendent frame—again- one of cinema’s single best—he’s inspired by the movie he’s been watching shown in shot reverse shot. Simple and sublime.