Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’ at the Center Theatre on Saturday

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — On Saturday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m., Center Theatre will present Buster Keaton’s silent film “The General” with live piano accompaniment. The live music will be provided by Maine Fiddle Camp director Doug Protsik.

    “To view a silent movie with live accompaniment is an amazing experience,” said Executive Director Angela Bonacasa. “Doug is not a peripheral, extraneous part of the movie. He is as much of the movie as the film itself. The music almost becomes another character in the film; it not only creates the mood of the piece, but the musical choices can support, comment on, or even ‘tell jokes’, as Doug puts it. It really is such an important part of the experience. And it’s a real emotional journey for the accompanist as well; they play non-stop for the entire film, so it’s mentally as well as physical demanding. It’s a true honor to view this kind of performance; it gives you a real sense of how much cinema has truly changed in the last century.”
    Protsik has composed and recorded original scores for silent film restorations for Turner Classic Movies and has also performed for silent movies at international film festivals. He learned his style from Otto Soper, Geneva Walton and Danny Patt, among many others. He is continuing the tradition of film accompaniment and has scored and has accompanied numerous films. Using old sheet music from Patt’s collection, as well as researching at the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill, Maine, his scores attempt to capture the unique flavor of the music as it embellishes the action on screen, in an original and authentic way.
    “The General” (1925) is an imaginative masterpiece of dead-pan, stone-faced Buster Keaton comedy, generally regarded as one of the greatest of all silent comedies (and Keaton’s own favorite) — and undoubtedly the best train film ever made.
    The Civil War adventure-epic classic was made toward the end of the silent era. Posters describing the slapstick film heralded “Love, Locomotives and Laughs.” The film displays marvelous technical and structural perfection, playful comic inventiveness and realistic romance; and nonchalant graceful, fluid athleticism on the part of Keaton. Realistic stunts (without stuntmen to double for Keaton), uncontrived, free-flowing set-pieces, non-stop motion, and a preoccupation with authenticity make parts of the film a visual history of the American Civil War.
    Tickets can be purchased by calling the Center Theatre at 564-8943. For more information, visit

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