DIRECTOR: RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH
COUNTRY: USA/ENGLAND 1993
CINEMATOGRAPHY: SVEN NYKVIST
MUSIC: JOHN BARRY
WRITTEN BY: Based on the biographies and various stories.
CAST: Robert Downey Jr (Chaplin), Dan Aykroyd (Mack S.), Anthony Hopkins (George), Milla Jovovich, Kevin Dunn, Moira Kelly, Kevin Kline (Fairbanks), Diane Lane, Penelope Ann Miller, Marisa Tomei, James Woods, Geraldine Chaplin (Mom)
SUPER FEATURES: Well told story, and super acting jobs.
I was born during a time when Charles Chaplin was the most important part of film, when you were a kid growing up. And the intellectual
world around me, also liked him for other reasons, most of them with political overtones.
This film, joins both, and makes a truly inspirational film, about a legend, who made mistakes, but also gave us so much more, that we can never measure in the scale of enjoyment. Much of his comedy was precious. And he did not repeat himself, as did most of those around him. This bit does not go by un-noticed by the director.
Charles Chaplin started in the early days, in the Mack Sennett stuff, as a bit part actor. He soon graduated to his own films, and even though he had some terrible times, the competition for the dollar was very tough, and the depression was just arriving, he managed to give Hollywood a dignity which it lacked. The Busby Berkeley stuffs looked stupid when people couldn't afford a bowl of soup. The Mack Sennett stuff needed money. But Charles just did his own little films, even with little budget, and busted out through the depression like the no one in Hollywood could. And he became the ultimate symbol of what the depression is really like, with his short THE TRAMP.
But Charles' life wasn't simple. From the early days when he felt compelled to live a slight fantasy, until he learned of a lie, he kept himself a constant list of ladies in waiting, and some of them were famous for trying to hook rich people in those days (several scandals). He barely escaped one himself. But his art form was better than ever.
In enter, the portion of his life he would rather forget. The FBI in those days, had no intrigue, except to try and snoop out anyone that was un-American, or whomever, J. Edgar Hoover felt should be bothered.
But the real art survives, and little can touch it, and a small time hero like Hoover can never touch it. They manage to pull off an anti American fiasco, but the whole thing looms stupid and the film makers are having a heyday with the government's stupidity and waste of funds.
The film ends, with the famous special OSCAR that Charles Chaplin was given for his tremendous efforts, specially during a time when it appears that all was lost. Charles may have been, but the tramp was not.
Superb performances in this film include Robert Downey Jr as Chaplin, and Dan Aykroyd as Mack Sennett, and even Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks. The surprise bit is the grand-daughter (Geraldine Chaplin) playing grandma, who tried so hard, to help their sons withstand so much during such hard times.
Lovingly directed, with a respect that is not always found in much film making these days, this longish film is a treat. Visually, story wise, and just about at any turn. It is told in retrospect, as a bit of a memory, by an aging Charles who is telling one of his biographers (Anthony Hopkins) about some of the events in his life. The biographer is disappointed that there are many holes in the tale, of moments that are obviously buried, and Charles does not wish to discuss them. like his father, and some of his more notorious affairs.
But the film is a great tribute to one of the greatest artists the 20th century has ever seen on film. He may not have been perfect for himself, or many, but he made it perfect for the audience, who just howled, and bowled over, such tremendously funny material.
This film is worthy of all the accolades it ever got, and then some.
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