The funny thing is he really did change my life! I first discovered him about 3 or 4 years ago–just stumbled across a film on TCM. Within a matter of minutes I was intrigued. When that piece ended, I quickly checked the guide and found out that TCM was just ending a Chaplin film festival.
Appetite whetted, I went to my local library, checked out everything they had–went online, joined a Chaplin group on yahoo, bought DVDs…as time went by, I bought books on Charlie and other silent film comedians. And THEN I sought other silent films, an art form that I had hitherto never even thought of– but now I find silent film to be one of the most beautiful of art forms. I have now seen “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” “Metropolis,” Louise Brooks’ “Diary of a Lost Girl,” Mary Pickford’s “Sparrows,” and needless to say, virtually everything Chaplin ever made.
What is about Charlie and his films that appeals to me? The grace, the beauty, the pathos. I laugh, yes, but unlike almost any other comedian, when Charlie makes me laugh there’s an added layer of delight and appreciation that is rather hard to explain…although not to a fellow Chaplin fan!
A final note, I saw “The Kid” at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles a year or two ago, and it was one of the highlights of my life. To be surrounded by a packed house, roaring with laughter, is just an experience I would wish for every Chaplin lover.
Laura, United States
Chaplin had a multi-talent which I think never will be passed by any other. He arrived at the Keystone Studios without any knowledge about cameras or film in general, and within a couple of years he revolutionized the industry throughout. Watch The Bank from 1915. We laugh of the surprising humor in the opening scene, when Charlie walks into the bank and, in a serious tune with much dignity, opens a mighty vault — just to pick up a scrubbing pail and a swab. A few minutes later, the film changes attitude when Charlie’s sweet-heart tears his love letter to pieces. Chaplin’s mimic is unsurpassed. How much empathy do we feel toward, say, Roscoe Arbuckle when we view one of his 1915-flicks? They’re funny, but what make us laugh is rather a number of insane dolls than human beings. The Kid is one of the most brilliant examples. Gee, how that movie makes me cry.
Chaplin knew what was touching, sad, pathetic and heroic — he knew how to tap the emotions of his audiences to arouse them, and he had an intuitive knowledge of the workings of the human personality. Through his movies, he made the world realize social injustice while he, at the very same time, made us laugh — until we cried. The speech at the end of The Great Dictator is amazing. He is My Master.