What’s So Great About Charlie Chaplin?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person born on the 16th of April is a creative and talented genius.  As evidenced by the fact both Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin and I can claim the same date as our momentous day of womb emancipation.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to go to a silent movie theatre on Fairfax Ave, here in LA.  First of all, the fact that a silent movie theatre still exists is enough to make me smile.  I can’t think of anything more quaint than a silent movie theatre-especially one which has a pianist performing the scores live!

As I sat there watching, I could certainly appreciate what it is about Charlie Chaplin that makes him such a legend of the screen–especially in a time where limited technology imposed so many restrictions.  Chaplin was able to embrace those restrictions and use them to his advantage.  He made his silent movies work because you didn’t to know what was being said in order to enjoy a laugh.  Even when the occasional text flashed on the screen, informing you of what a character had just said, you didn’t need to read it because everything was already being displayed through the actions and reactions of the actors.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once called Charlie Chaplin “the only genius to come out of the movie industry.” I think the truth in this declaration comes when you see how Chaplin didn’t need 3D technology, or colour TV, or even sound to be successful in the industry.  He simply knew how to tell a good, funny story.  And it certainly didn’t hurt that he was born on the 16th of April.


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