The General appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a stellar presentation.
Sharpness worked well the vast majority of the time, as most of the film offered nice delineation and accuracy. Some interiors could seem a smidgen soft, but that didn’t turn into a concern, so expect a pretty concise and accurate presentation.
The image lacked jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. The film came with a gentle layer of grain and suffered from no print flaws, a pretty miraculous state of affairs given the movie’s advanced age.
Blacks felt deep and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. The film would look fine for something shot in 2019, so its high quality seemed remarkable given its advanced age.
Since The General entered the world as a silent movie, I didn’t have to worry about any problems with its source audio. The disc provided a DTS—HD MA 5.1 music track to accompany the film.
The mix provided very nice imaging for the score, as the instruments spread well across the front and demonstrated a good sense of spatiality. Despite the 5.1 nature of the mix, I detected only mild support from the surrounds.
This meant the forward channels dominated and left the back speakers without much to do. I didn’t mind this, as I felt the basic stereo impression seemed more than adequate for the material.
Quality was perfectly solid as well. The music boasted nice breadth and definition, with clean highs and some decent bass during the smattering of percussive elements. The soundtrack reproduced the score well.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio felt more robust, while visuals offered tremendous improvements.
Due to the movie’s age, the old DVD wasn’t a disaster, hut it didn’t impress, either. The Blu-ray became a radical step up in quality and entered “revelation” territory.
The set includes two featurettes, and Reflections on The General goes for five minutes, 28 seconds. It provides comments from TV host Ben Mankiewicz, movie critic Leonard Maltin, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and actor Bill Hader.
“Reflections” takes a look at the film and its legacy. They offer some interesting perspectives but don’t expect much real insight.
With The Luminary, we find a five-minute, 19-second program with Hader, Tarantino, Maltin, Mankiewicz, actor Paul Dooley and filmmaker Jon Watts. They offer an appreciation for Buster Keaton. Outside of Maltin’s anecdote about how he met Keaton as a kid, this becomes a pretty fluffy piece.
Finally, we find a Restoration Trailer for The General. It spans one minute, 46 seconds and basically just advertises the Blu-ray, which feels odd since we already own it. I thought it’d show the work done for the restored presentation but we get no info of that sort.
The disc opens with ads for The Bostonians, Between the Lines, The Great Buster and Ash Is Purest White.
Note that this package also includes Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. from 1928. I didn’t view that as an “extra” so it didn’t factor into my ratings – it’ll receive discussion in a separate review.
One of the best regarded silent films of all-time, The General doesn’t do a lot for me as a comedy. As an action flick, however, it proves more satisfying, and those two sides make it something unusual and enjoyable. The Blu-ray provides stellar visuals along with perfectly acceptable audio and minor supplements. Film fans will find themselves impressed by this immaculate restoration.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE GENERAL