According to the British Film Institute, he was “a towering figure in world culture”.
Before I’d share anything about Mr. Chaplin, let me tell you what a silent film is. It is a film that doesn’t have any recorded sounds in it, for example, it doesn’t have any conversations. However, you could hear music in a silent film. The silent film era became popular from the 2nd half of the 19th century, and it only started to become less fashionable around the 1960s. But how is this connected to Charlie Chaplin and who was he?
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) was born in London, England. He was an exceptional actor, comic artist and filmmaker in his time, and he became famous during the silent film era.
How did he become so good? He started his career very young. As a child, he was an entertainer already from the age of 5. (Wow!) He soon became a professional stage actor, dancer and comedian. He was so fit that he also worked for a while in a circus. When he was only 19, he joined Fred Karno’s (English theatre producer and organiser) company and that was his turning point. After signing with Fred Karno, he had many more opportunities and decided to travel to the United States. He became even more well-known after that.
Are you wondering how can somebody be so talented? Well, he was surely gifted, but he was extremely hard-working, too – by 1919, he had his own company called United Artists. This meant that he could direct, write, and produce his own films. Not only these, but obviously, he also starred in his productions.
He was most famous for portraying a tramp in his films. (A tramp is someone who always travels from one place to another, and is usually unemployed and asking others for money.) How did he portray ‘the tramp’? It was pretty different from today’s world! He wore too-large, black trousers with a black coat. He put on huge black shoes and had a little hat on his head. Of course, he always had a walking cane in his hand. And let’s not forget the small moustache on his face either! Even his appearance was funny! He played the character of ‘the tramp’ in many of his films.
Around the 1920s, sound films (a movie with recorded sounds and conversations in it; opposite of silent films) started to become more and more popular. Unluckily for Chaplin, he had a very strong British accent, so he couldn’t portray the American character of ‘the tramp’ in the modern productions.
Obviously ‘the tramp’ wasn’t the only role he played. He also played survivors, waiters, firemen and many more.
Chaplin had a very special comedic style and the people loved him. His physical activity was exaggerated for humour; his films were funny, but they had an intelligent story at the same time. Who wouldn’t like that?
Today, there are several statues of him in different countries all over the world.
I know what you’re thinking: “is there one in London?” Of course. The statue here was made in 1979, and now you can find it in Leicester Square.
Continue to the Chaplin crossword…