gif: the general

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The sequence that is considered the most expensive shot in the Silent Era is the climactic train crash in Buster Keaton’s epic comedy “The General”. At $42,000 (in 1927 dollars), the cost was more than 10% of the film’s budget. Because this was a time before CGI, Keaton, shooting in Oregon, took a real locomotive, a real bridge and set up multiple cameras. He then lit the bridge on fire, yelled “action” and captured the wreck on film all in one take.