Jan 15, 2011

The Circus (1928) - Charlie needs a hug

directed by Charles Chaplin / starring Charles Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Allan Garcia

Last summer I was positively addicted to Charlie Chaplin, watched most of his full-length films and loved them to pieces. Now, after a little break from the wonderful black-and-white world of the Tramp, I realised there's still so much for me to see. So I watched The Circus, one of Chaplin's less known full-lenght silent films. Next to City Lights, The Gold Rush and Modern Times, The Circus is usually left unmentioned. Such a terrible shame, I say! Talk about unfairly underrated... Though it didn't top City Lights in my book, I'd definitely place it somewhere right below it, with The Gold Rush and The Kid.

In The Circus our dear belowed Tramp gets a job in a travelling circus, after accidently being discovered by the ringmaster, while chased by the police to and from the stage. The crowd loves his unintentional comedy, so the ringmaster gives him a job as an assistant property man to keep him around, Tramp being unaware that the circus prospers thanks to him. The ringmaster also has a daughter, whom he abuses all the time. Tramp befriends with her and soon developes romantic feelings towards her, too. But then there's the handsome robe walker, who steals her heart...

When it comes to Chaplin's silent films, it's unnecessary to point out that they're funny. But I will anyway. It doesn't really make much sense that I laugh aloud at someone falling down or lifting his hat or being chased by a horse. I don't know how he does it. But no one does it like him. Also, the element of melancholy is always present in Chaplin's films. That's what gives them depth and makes them stand out as profound, touching and relatable stories. As much as I loved the comedy of The Circus, I loved the ending the most. It wasn't a happy one like the ending of City Lights, for example, but it's very close to topping that in my book. Just perfect.

By the way, if you have too much time and want to waste it on something silly, you might want to take a look at the Charlie Chaplin time travel mystery, which was started just last year as a man claimed he's found a woman talking to a cell-phone in a scene of The Circus. Haha. Someone is a bit desperate in finding some excitement in life.

Now... If a picture ever gave you a terrible urge to hug someone, it's the picture below. Just look at poor, poor Charlie. The production of The Circus was reportedly more difficult than any other's of Chaplin's films. At one point a fire destroyed the whole set (the picture was taken that day. Aw, poor thing. Just look at that face and try not to feel sorry for him) and some of the already filmed material was also destroyed due to some techinical hitch. In addition, Charlie was going through a very tough time in his personal life, being in the middle of a rough and public divorce from his second wife. Reportedly, he had to go away in the middle of the production to recover from a nervous breakdown. And yet... look at the outcome and marvel what he still managed to create in the middle of that mayhem. I'd high-five Mr Chaplin if I could! Or maybe give him a hug first.

P.S. I was watching Chaplin the other day during the Christmas break and my 20-month-old nephew walked into the room. It happened to be the bit where Charlie shows the boxing scene from City Lights to one of his wives (don't remember which one... Sorry Charlie, but there were quite a few of them) and I was about to pause the DVD, before he'd demand me to put Cars on or show some Bob the Builder clips from Youtube. Instead, he looked at the Tramp jumping up and down in the boxing ring, and started to laugh! Afterwards, he'd come to my room again, imitating the Tramp's jumping, and as I understood and showed him the clip from Youtube, he wanted to see it again and again. I was one proud godmother! I might be failing (so far... I'm not giving up!) in brainwashing him into Toy Story, but at least he has an excelent taste in silent films!

P.P.S. Today I noticed Voddler is full of Chaplin's less known short films! Yay! I know what I'll be doing from now on before going to sleep... Half an hour of laughter will guarantee you a good night's sleep.

P.P.P.S. Currently I'm trying to convince myself that 105 € is not that much money and certainly an amount that could be spared from a student's monthly budget. Look at this. Ten of Charlie Chaplin's greatest films, plus a documentary, all in one package. 105 €. It's not really bad at all when you think about it, is it...? That's less than 10 € per DVD... I'm so close to ordering it right away... All I need is some excuse. Shame my birthday's not until June and I already kind of bought myself a Christmas present...

P.P.P.P.S. In a few weeks I'll see The Gold Rush with the music played by a live orchestra! Can't wait!

"I'll give you fifty dollars a week. Sixty! ... I'll double it!"
"Nothing less than a hundred."

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