The enduring appeal of Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin Charlie in 'The Bond'   | Photo Credit: handout

He was the funniest man in the world – ever. For most part of the twentieth century, comic actor Sir Charles Spencer Charlie Chaplin occupied the centrestage with his special ability to bring a smile on people’s faces.

The cinematic genius who was born in April 1889 continues to be an inspiration to film makers and comedians across the world.

  The London-born, U.S.-bred, Switzerland-settled Chaplin was not just an actor. He was also a writer, director, editor and music composer. He rose to fame during the silent film era.

In his early years, his mother Hannah Chaplin was the biggest source of inspiration. He learnt how to express emotions and look at the finer nuances of human relationships from her.

Though Chaplin had a tough childhood, he always wanted to become an actor. From a tender age, he engaged himself in several jobs – but at the end of the day he would dress up well and go knocking on the doors of theatre agencies for a chance.

He got an opportunity to act in a stage show at the age of 12. He played Billy, the pageboy in Sherlock Homes. Following the debut, he worked as a mime artiste in Vaudeville theatres until he left London for America. When Chaplin first arrived at there he joined the Karno pantomime troupe and toured with them for six years.

He signed his first movie in 1913 with Keystone Pictures. This film was “Making a Living”.

Later, he became famous for his The Tramp character. The signature look of The Tramp – baggy pants, tight suit, bowler hat, toothbrush moustache and a cane – remains indelible in our minds even today.

The Tramp became iconic in the war-torn world and the economic depression that followed. Despite the troubled times, the character succeeded in making people laugh – with nothing but pure expressions.

The War years  

During the outbreak of Word War I, Chaplin’s comedy played a significant role. It was during this time that Chaplin was becoming a successful star with the endearing character of The Tramp.

The best of his movies include:
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Kid (1921)
Modern Times (1936)

Over the next 25 years during the Great depression, Holocaust and the run-up to another World War, he continued to do his job and help people overcome their struggles.

Mixing slapstick with pathos, he took it on himself to provide entertainment and relief to people when they needed it the most. He also wrote and acted in a number of war-themed propaganda films such as “The Bond” and “Shoulder Arms.” It was after World War I that Chaplin co-founded the ‘United Artists’.

Chaplin lives on…

Chaplin was and will continue to be remembered as one of the most important people of the 20th Century.

As a film maker, he is considered a pioneer and an enduring source of inspiration. Imagine making people roll in their seats and laugh in difficult times. That too with just gestures and expressions! The lovable Tramp lives on…

(Compiled by Vidhyalakshmi who is currently an intern with The Hindu in School)

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 6:18:57 AM |

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