Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Charlie Chaplin was one of the most influential individuals in film history and even today comedians look to him for inspiration. Chaplin is the bio-pic that tells the tale of Chaplin from his early childhood through his acceptance of his lifetime achievement Oscar near the end of his life.

I must first give props to Richard Attenborough because through his wonderful handling of the wild and twisty life of Charles Chaplin the performers life becomes more than just a history lesson, or a example of filmmaking at the start of the industry; the story is one of a man who wanted people to laugh, and wanted to make sure his films had something to say – the story is one that is far reaching and epic, yet rather than feeling long and strenuous the film feels as light and airy as Chaplin’s films were. Attenborough has to capture a main character at many ages, and in many historical eras and it is never labored or satirical. From the choice of costumes to every single actor that passes in front of the lens this film smacks of a director that knew exactly what he was achieving and how he came about it.

No matter who you are you cannot come out of watching Chaplin without being in awe of what Robert Downey Jr. does in that role. It is no wonder that this role garnered Downey his first Academy Award nomination. Like so few actors are truly capable of when you watch Downey portray Chaplin you quickly forget that he is Robert Downey Jr, and all you see if Charlie Chaplin. I can only marvel at exactly how Downey is able to inhabit the shoes of Chaplin so well, from the way the Tramp walked to creating the real life personality there are no missteps in this role. I commend Richard Attenborough for casting Downey, the film could have been something entirely different if another actor were in role.

Director: Richard Attenborough
Writers: William Boyd, Bryan Forbes & William Goldman
Charles Chaplin: Robert Downey Jr.
Hannah Chaplin: Geraldine Chaplin
Sydney Chaplin: Paul Rhys
Oona O’Neill: Moira Kelly
George Hayden: Anthony Hopkins
Mack Sennett: Dan Aykroyd
Mabel Normand: Marisa Tomei
Douglas Fairbanks: Kevin Kline
Mary Pickford: Maria Pitillo
Mildred Harris: Milla Jovovich
J. Edgar Hoover: Kevin Dunn
Paulette Goddard: Diane Lane
Rollie: David Duchovny

Charlie Chaplin: If you want to understand me, watch my movies.


troan said...

Dear Megan
RA was my co-producer on his last movie (our) I am about to embark on a documentary about his directorial technique and style - as an aspiring (active!) director - interested to know if you would consider a documentary such as this would be of value? JG

steve said...

For a photo-essay on Chaplin as "auetur" go to:

Megan said...

I always think a documentary is worthwhile. It could be quite interesting. You'll have to let me know when it's done so I can check it out!