Period: American Civil War - 1862 - Andrews Raid/Great Locomotive Chase
Synopsis: The General is one of the last great silent films. The story is loosely based off of the actual hijacking of the "General" locomotive in 1862 during the Andrews Raid, which in turn gave in to the Great Locomotive Chase. The story of the movie centers around the (mis)adventures of the train's engineer to capture back his two great loves, Anabelle Lee and The General.
Overall opinion: In comparison to Birth of a Nation, this movie was easier to watch in many ways. Although it is loosely based on an actual event, it's really a light-hearted romantic comedy that's the length of a regular movie. It doesn't seek to make much social commentary, and is full of sight gags that are still pretty funny. It does play to sterotypes of the war, which might be interesting viewing for reenactors who deal with the public on frequent basis.
Good reenactor film?: The General is a worthy movie to watch, but you're not going to get much out of it authenticity-wise. A couple shots looked pretty nice though, and showed lines of infantry lugging hard packs and what looked to be convincing muskets. The trains were of the period, so that's one thing the movie definitely got right.
How does it stack up?: There's not too much I can say about this movie to recommend it, other than it's a novelity (for our day and age) comedy. It's funny and light-hearted, and from a historical standpoint, you'll see a lot of things that have been repeated in later slapstick comedy movies. But, it still is a silent film, so you have to make sure to get your mind right with that before you watch it.
If you want to see about more movies, check out my old blog, "War Moovies".