Chaplin (1992)

“Chaplin” (1992)


More cinema, less data…

The IMDb trivia for Attenborough states regarding his cinematic thinking states that: “Philosophies include believing in content as opposed to style and sincerity rather than intelligence.”

Sometimes these things work in his films, but the fact is that in art, sincerity is almost always obtained through intelligence, and honesty has little to do with truth. Chaplin knew it, so none of his films are “true” in a strict sense of the word, but all of them are above all honest. This why, all and all, i don’t quite enjoyed this film: because it failed to reach the “content” of Chaplin’s work. Attenborough is, nevertheless, very competent, and so is his camera work, many times quite interesting (though in these concerns, as well as editing, watch his bright A bridge too far), and that very aspect makes this partially worth the time.

“-what do we do? -We smile”

For me, Chaplin is one of the synonyms for emotion in cinema. Films become part of people’s lives. Many get into those lives bended by context, which means, the ones people had the opportunity (good or bad luck) to watch. Chaplin got into my life quite early and, for a long time, i never understood exactly what he did, i don’t remember in my childhood watching a full film of his, but many excerpts are part of my visual memories (chaplin for children). Growing up and understanding how all the drama, all the emotion (beyond the “funny”) exists in his cinema was a true revelation to me and a gate into cinema as an art. the “clown effect”, the tramp always smiling is always capable of showing the beautiful and the horrible, the dark and the shiny, dark in what it shows, shiny in what it comes to provoke. This is humanism in cinema, in my personal thoughts. From what I know, Chaplin is at the top of those who (tried to) master this.

In the particular film, emotion is left to the end; which is nevertheless fully made after cinema paradiso. But its strenght is there because it simply displays Chaplin’s films. The most successful option here, to my view, would have been to bring out “content” instead of “facts”. So, back to the citation from IMDb’s trivia, what i find here is a different notion of “content” (different than my own) which, for Attenborough, ended up as a collection (that i would call a little bit dull) of facts, making cinema secondary. In the movie Chaplin says “if you want to know me, watch my movies”. That would be the key

Nevertheless, Downey Jr is very very strong here and his physical acting is truly remarkable.

Meanwhile, as a biographical movie”, my personal choice still goes to the very recent and relatively unknown “life and death of Peter Sellers” for it reaches much more into the soul of the artist.

My evaluation: 2/5 overall a failure, even though it’s not bad to watch (mainly due to Downey’s Jr acting and some camera work)

This comment on IMDb


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