Chaplin, the Legend

          “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying – Charlie Chaplin.

         Six hundred and Sixty two people on Sunday set a world record for the biggest gathering of Charlie Chaplin’s, each donning the black jacket, shoes, bowler hat, toothbrush moustache and cane of the comic’s signature creation, the Little Trump.

         Chaplin was born in London 128 years ago on Sunday. He died on Christmas Day, 1977, aged 88, after spending the last decades of his life in Switzerland.

         The Chaplin’s World museum, which opened a year ago on Sunday, also said that it had had around 300,000 visitors in its first 12 months of operation, far outstripping estimates of 220,000.
      
         Much more than just a great comic actor, Chaplin conceived, directed, produced, and even wrote the scores for his films. In the process he pioneered silent film comedy and laid foundations for all the film makers who followed.

         He was a man that should inspire everyone. Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16th, 1889, in a poor district in London. He was the outlier of imagination and industry. He worked hard at being unparalleled, with an ability to communicate emotion through peculiar movement on silent film.

         Chaplin will forever belong amongst the greats because he was an innovator. He fell into his craft, spun, ran, danced and mastered his way through. Chaplin did what he was born to do and never stopped getting better, a celebrity on a mission.

         Even though he is considered as one of the legends of World cinema, he had a rough childhood. His mother Hannah Hill Chaplin, a talented singer, actress and Piano player spent most of her life in and out of mental hospitals; his father, Charles Spencer Chaplin Sr. was a fairly successful singer until he began drinking. After his parents separated, Charlie and his half-brother, Sidney, spent most of their childhood in orphanages, where they often went hungry and were beaten if they misbehaved. Barely able to read and write, Chaplin left school to tour with a group of comic entertainers. Later he starred in a comedy act. By the age

of nineteen he had become one of the most popular music-hall performers in England.  

         In 1910 Chaplin went to the United States to tour in A Night in an English Music Hall. He was chosen by filmmaker Mack Sennett (1884–1960) to appear in the silent Keystone comedy series. In these early movies (Making a Living, Tillie's Punctured Romance), Chaplin changed his style. He stopped overacting and became more delicate and precise in his movements. He created the role of "the tramp." Appearing in over thirty short films, Chaplin realized that the speed and craziness of Sennett's productions was holding back his personal talents. He left to work at the Essanay Studios. Some of his films during this period were His New Job, The Tramp, and The Champion, notable for their comic and sympathetic moments. His 1917 films for the Mutual Company, including One A.M. , The Pilgrim, The Cure, Easy Street, and The Immigrant, displayed sharper humor. In 1918 Chaplin built his own studio and signed a million-dollar contract with National Films, producing silent-screen classics such as A Dog's Life, comparing the life of a dog with that of a tramp; Shoulder Arms, which poked fun at World War I (1914–18); and The Kid, a touching story of slum life.

         In 1923 Chaplin, D. W. Griffith (1875–1948), Douglas Fairbanks (1883–1937), and Mary Pickford (1893–1979) formed United Artists (UA) to produce high-quality feature-length movies. A Woman of Paris (1923), a drama, was followed by two of Chaplin's funniest films, The Gold Rush (1925) and The Circus (1928). Chaplin directed City Lights (1931), a beautiful tale about the tramp's friendship with a drunken millionaire and a blind flower girl. Many critics consider it his finest work. Although movies had made the change over to sound, City Lights was silent except for one scene in which the tramp hic-cups with a tin whistle in his throat while trying to listen politely to a concert. Modern Times (1936), a farce (broad comedy with an unbelievable plot) about the cruelty and greed of modern industry, contains some of the funniest gags and comic sequences in film history, the most famous being the tramp's battle with an eating machine gone crazy. Chaplin's character of Hynkel in The Great Dictator (1940) is a powerful satire (the use of humor to criticize a person or institution) of German military leader Adolf Hitler (1889–1945). It was the last film using  

the tramp and ends with Chaplin pleading for love and freedom.

         It was with these more involved productions of the 1930s and 1940s that Chaplin achieved true greatness as a  film director. Monsieur Verdoux, directed by Chaplin in 1947 (and condemned by the American Legion of Decency), is one of the strongest moral statements ever put on the screen. Long before European filmmakers taught audiences to appreciate the role of the writer and director, Chaplin revealed his many talents by handling both roles in his productions.

             With time Chaplin evolved in complexity, reflecting the dangers of his time with 1940’s The Great Dictator. His outstanding speech from this film is definitely the greatest of cinematic history:

           “Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and fell too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent, and will be lost…

           The love showered upon Chaplin in the early years of his career was more than equaled by the anger directed toward him during the 1940s and early 1950s. The American public was outraged by the outspoken quality of his political views, the problems in his personal life, and the often bitter elements expressed in his art. A socialist (one who believes all people should have equal ownership in the production of goods and services) and an atheist (one who denies the existence of God), Chaplin expressed a hatred for dictatorship (government in which power is held by one person or a single small group). This made people suspicious of him. This feeling increased when he released Monsieur Verdoux, in which he showed that mass murder and the abuse of workers in an attempt to increase business profits were similar. Critics praised the film, but it was more popular with European audiences than those in America.

         During the next five years Chaplin devoted himself to Limelight (1952), a gentle and sometimes sad work based in part on his own life. It was much different from 

Monsieur ”Verdoux. "I was … still not convinced," Chaplin wrote, "that I had  completely lost the affection of the American people, that they could be  so politically conscious or so humorless as to boycott [refuse to pay attention to] anyone that could amuse them." Further hurting Chaplin's image was a much-publicized lawsuit brought against him by a woman who claimed he was the father of her child. Although Chaplin proved he was not the child's father, reaction to the charges turned many people against him.

            While on vacation in Europe in 1952, Chaplin was notified by the U.S. attorney general that his reentry into the United States would be challenged. He was charged with committing immoral acts and being politically suspicious. Chaplin, who had never become a United States citizen, sold all of his American possessions and settled in Geneva, Switzerland, with his fourth wife, Oona O'Neill, daughter of the American playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953), and their children. In 1957 Chaplin visited England to direct The King in New York, which was never shown in the United States.

             My Autobiography (the story of his own life) was published in 1964. Most critics considered Chaplin's 1967 film, A Countess from Hong Kong, a disaster.  By the 1970s times had changed, and Chaplin was again recognized for his rich contribution to film. He returned to the United States in 1972, where he was honored by major tributes in New York City and Hollywood, California, including receiving a special Academy Award. In 1975 he became Sir Charles Chaplin after Queen Elizabeth II of England knighted him. 

            He told stories that moved us. He had this way of connecting with everything we were dying to say. In 1916s, The Rink he showed us magic on skates. In 1921’s The Kid, Chaplin breaks our heart. He kept bust churning out film after film, even experimenting with entirely off screen responsibilities for 1923s, A Woman of Paris. He was always trying something new.

         We lost the legend Chaplin on December 25, 1977.

         Chaplin’s art overflowed the bounds of cinema and raised the tides of history; but Chaplin’s life also overflowed the bounds of law and norms and submerged those who stood in the path of his desires. The story of Chaplin’s success is the story of Cinema itself, and Charles Chaplin is a true legend                                                                                                                                                              Sarika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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