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The artfully put together documentary The Real Charlie Chaplin does not claim to be an exhaustive or exhaustive look at one of comedy’s greatest geniuses. He argues that by the end of this evocative compilation, we may not have learned much more about the Chaplin man – unlike the artist – than we got in.
This is not the fault of co-directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney – this is their raison d’être. Image title naughty.
Nonetheless, the film attempts to provide its fair share of clarifying evidence and theories about the “real” Chaplin, as it combines a fascinating abundance of familiar and rarer video clips and other archival material with previously unheard sound and skillful dramatic reconstructions to form a cradle for – a funerary account of the legend’s long and winding life.
The film touches on and often permeates many of the performer’s highlights – and in doing so. It begins with the story of Chaplin’s poorest youth in East London, teen forays into the comedy scene, and moving to America in 1910 at the age of 21. He soon became unrivaled for his roles in (as well as directing, writing, producing, and more) in a variety of comedy shorts and, later, his first feature film (The Kid), honing and supporting his alter ego, The Tramp, in the process. … It is easily explained how he assembled the iconic costume of his favorite character.
His story continues: in 1919 he co-founded United Artists, for which he made a series of hits (Gold Rush, City Lights, and New Times, all shot in close-ups). Chaplin’s perfectionist mannerisms, his avoidance of sound in films prior to his 1940 Hitler satire The Great Dictator (revealingly noted that he and Der Fuhrer were born four days apart), as well as his provocative, ultimately problematic political bias also take over. coated.
Chaplin’s infamous Downward Spiral ends the film’s chronology on a darker note. He became persona non grata after a series of romantic and marital scandals; ugly paternity suit; accusations of communist views; and the wicked, foul alliance between J. Edgar Hoover and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Ultimately, the FBI investigation led to Chaplin’s forcible departure from the United States, and he moved to Switzerland, where he will live his years.
Chaplin’s later films, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight, are briefly mentioned, but his last two, The King of New York and the stellar Countess of Hong Kong, are not discussed.
The final section of the document focuses more on Chaplin’s fourth and final marriage to Una O’Neill (his penchant for many – much younger women continued here: she was 18, he was 54 when they married), with whom he had eight children … Among them is actress Geraldine Chaplin, who we heard here in audio interviews along with several of her siblings. O’Neill (daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill) was clearly the actor’s lifelong love, and at least as evidenced by the personal footage of the home movie, they enjoyed a rather idyllic existence on their 35-acre Swiss estate.
Middleton and Spinney, who also co-wrote with Oliver Kindeberg (British actress Pearl Mackie is a masterful narrator), wedge in many other memorable moments and images from Chaplin’s legendary career, including his honorable 1972 Oscar win. Despite the omissions, the film proves its worth. a rich and satisfying meal that Chaplin fans and complimentors alike must accept.
‘The Real Charlie Chaplin’
Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes
Plays: Kicks off November 19, Laemmle Monica, Santa Monica; available Dec 11th on Showtime