We all wanted to start this year 2021 with joy and good humor and not with a curfew at 6:00 p.m. So now that we are deprived of going out, we will have to look for activities to occupy our winter Saturday afternoons… article we explain why you should start taking advantage of this curfew to (re)discover Charlie Chaplin’s classics…
Because he is one of the greatest filmmakers in history.
Even if you’ve never seen a single Chaplin movie, it’s impossible not to know him (unless you grew up in a cave). It embodies cinema for generations of viewers. No less than 70 Charlie Chaplin short films are famous all over the world. His character, Charlot, is a movie legend. His funny mustache and his pampering are legendary. Each of his films achieved cosmic success. Charlie Chaplin turned art cinema upside down through his obsession with gesture and perfect rhythm. It is a revelation, a revolution of the XX. the century whose power even today draws our attention more than ever.
Because these films alone constitute a universal artistic language
King of silent films, Charlie Chaplin refused for a long time to go over to sound films, preferring to go deeper and deeper into the non-verbal dimension of language. He had raised the universal language of pantomime to the pinnacle of his art, making every word blush at the intensity of his exceptional performance. But even when he finally decides to make his character speak, he always does so with a language of his own but familiar to everyone, as in Modern Times with his titin song where he improvises incomprehensible words that feed on various languages, whose meaning the viewer, whoever that is, grasp intuitively. We do not understand, we feel. This is the genius of Charlie Chaplin. Just like in The Dictatorduring Adenoid Hynkel’s speech, in which, emptied of their meaning, the words are only the expression of his totalitarian rule. We don’t understand a word he says, but the message is very clear to everyone. As Silke Schauder, professor of clinical psychology and psychopathology, explains to us, «listening to it is already submitting to it.»
To change a bit from superheroes to briefs and tights.
Let’s put aside Batman, Superman, Spiderman or another muscular man in boxer shorts and tights and focus on the extraordinary character that is Charlot, the little man , as Charlie Chaplin called him. His skinny and clumsy silhouette, his pants too wide, his size 44 boots while he wears a size 38… At first glance, he has the full panoply of the quintessential antihero. However, with his marginality sometimes suffering, sometimes provocative, Charlot is never where one expects him, upsetting the codes and upsetting the established order to survive as best he can and remain free. He watches and tries to come to terms with the hostile world around him. Like in City Lightswhere he is ready to become a boxer to help the young blind girl he fell in love with. He is always inverting the rules that he manages to get out of it. During the boxing match, he engages in hilarious choreography where, instead of facing the boxer, he takes the referee’s place after unsuccessfully using seduction to appease his opponent. This is how Charlot stands as a true figure of resistance, a genius of freedom, any hero who resonates in each one of us.
Because these movies echo today’s ills more than ever
A century later, Charlie Chaplin’s films more than ever echo our world today. He denounces the dictatorship, social injustices and evokes the place given to the artist in our societies. Within Modern Times, for example, we find Charlot as a worker-wanderer who carries within himself the class struggle, struggling to survive in a world disrupted by industrialization. Chaplin highlights the risk of dehumanization in a hyper-industrial society in which man has become a prisoner. Already at his time, Charlie Chaplin took the measure of a world that abused itself…
And last but not least, because we REALLY need to laugh right now…
Last reason why you should watch Charlie Chaplin’s movies again at all costs… Just for fun! In this period, it becomes essential to relax. As Chaplin said, «humor strengthens our survival instincts and safeguards our sanity.» And what better than the crème de la crème of burlesque comedy for that? I’m asking you ! the movies of the one-man band Never leave anyone indifferent, neither adults nor children. They provoke a cinematographic magnetism, a wonder. The Charlot phenomenon has never ceased to fascinate, it is timeless.
Some cult works to know absolutely
If you’ve never seen the great Chaplin classics (we’re not judging you!), here are a few we ask you. You can also find them on Netflix right now…
- The Boy (1921)
- Public Opinion (1923)
- The Circus (1928)
- City Lights (1931)
- Modern Times (1936)
- The Dictator (1940)
- The Gold Rush (1942)
- Mister Verdoux (1947)
- the spotlight (1952)
- A King in New York (1957)
For those who have already seen them, which Charlie Chaplin movie impressed you the most? Tell us in the comments!