One of the most inspiring things about Charlie Chaplin is his ability to make people laugh. His early life was not a walk in the garden. His father was an alcoholic and he abandoned the family, as a result his mother was affected mentally and she lost all contact with reality. It was then that Chaplin was sent to a workhouse. He was just a seven-year-old boy. His rise through the field of entertainment was not easy either. He started all the way from the bottom as a member of a dance troupe and the climb was not quick at all. He is also known to have performed in stage plays, many burlesque pieces and it was this that showed everyone that he had an affinity for comedy and timing. Well, he was then recruited by Fred Karno Company. This was how he came to live in the big bad America. After this, we all know what happened. The Tramp was introduced to the world — he made us laugh, he made us wonder and sometimes he even made us question authority. Charlie is a legend who lives on still through his art. One of the things that he had said, which is still quoted by many is that, “We think too much and feel too little.”
The Little Tramp:
One of the most iconic characters of the silent film era portrayed by Charlie Chaplin has been a part of many of his films. Chaplin could make you roll down on the floor laughing as the Little Tramp. Films like City Lights, Modern Times and The Tramp were a few of the memorable ones of the Tramp. The character’s debut happened when Chaplin was with Keystone Studios, in the short film Kid Auto Races at Venice.
City Lights was produced by his own studio, United Artists. Even though Chaplin went on to adapt to dialogues in the film later, City Lights was an important point in the artiste’s life because he stood up and said no to something he didn’t believe in. The craze of sound in films had taken over the entire country, and people were loving it. But this man thought that sound would add no value to his film, and might, in fact, bring down the quality of his work. This film also happened to be the first time that fans realised Chaplin’s interest in music. Though he refrained from using dialogues, he composed the music.
The Great Dictator:
His image and reputation were tarnished in the US in the late 1930s. It was during this time that he separated from his wife Paulette Goddard, who also happened to be his leading lady in Modern Times. His films had political references, which was then not appreciated. In the midst of all this and his plummeting popularity, he developed The Great Dictator. This was special in many ways because, for the first time, Chaplin gave up his adamant leaning towards silent films and used dialogues. Secondly, he made use of all the parallels that was drawn between him and Adolf Hitler. The two, born just four days apart looked quite similar, and the toothbrush style moustache that both of them sported just made it easier for people to comment. Chaplin decided, why not use this? And that was how one of the greatest films was born.
The speech that he made in that movie, is still considered to be relevant by many. In his autobiography, Charlie said that he took the risk of making this movie at that time because he felt that Hitler must be laughed at. He wrote, “I was determined to go ahead, for Hitler must be laughed at.” He also said that had he known about the horrors of concentration camps and holocaust, he couldn’t have made the film. “Had I known the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.”
My Autobiography, Charlie Chaplin
His autobiography is a treasure trove for any fan as there is so much about him that you get to know from the book. His book also happened to be one of the first celebrity autobiographies written. There is so much one can learn from him, not just about films, art and acting; but about life itself and his autobiography just proves that. One of the most surprising things about this biography is the way it was written. For someone who stayed away from dialogues as long as possible, the book was a happy surprise.
Then and now, Chaplin is known as an accomplished amateur musician. The love he had for his violin is not a common knowledge. Chaplin dreamed about retiring with his violin, spending time with Shelley and Keats probably somewhere in Italy. Limelight, one of his last works also stars him as a faded music-hall star, in fact, his fictional death happened while he was playing the violin.
This film is considered to be one of the most personal films that Chaplin had ever done, and the addition of his love for violin is charming. This also happened to win an Oscar for music. And interestingly, the man who is considered an amateur musician by many started to play when he was quite young. He was not only popular at the concert halls, but also took classes the theatre conductor when he was 16. He aimed to become a concert artiste then.