Last night I watched something that I had waiting, amongst a backlog of films, for many months now. The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003) is a documentary that I had been wanting to watch for such a long time… As of late, I have been wanting to connect with someone, a role model, to make me feel comfortable about myself right now – in one such way, I guess i’ve been having a slight nervous breakdown, inside. I think I can relate it to my relationship with Photography, but I don’t think here is where I should construe my mental dialogue. In one way, watching this documentary is almost like fate to me. It seems as if I was meant to see it, now, in this time of my “longing”; Because now that I have been immersed in watching this documentary for 2 whole hours, I feel better again about myself. I’ve found my comfort.
I am sure I can relate to Charles Chaplin, as many people can – this quote from the narration, struck me with light; Light of truth and reality – “He was a flawed man, a haunted man, a tormented man. Which is to say, he was only human…”.
I have been a fan of Charlie Chaplin ever since I was a little boy. His liveliness and physical emotion that he portrayed in his films entertained me, and still entertains me to this day (just as if his gags were fresher than fresh!). Much like the works of Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello; Chaplin’s humor and slapstick abilities, tells stories and conveys a language and dialogue on film, that is unlike any other uniquely identifiable silent film.
These slapstick geniuses are masters of the silent age and dawn of film, and will forever have a place in my heart for being such a fundamental part of who I am, personally. I have a personality that communicates through visual language. This is actually probably why I love Jackass so much, with their physical humor a key part in their identity.
It was fascinating to see and hear stories about the significant times in Chaplin’s life. It opens your eyes to a different time and different life of a hugely successful and wealthy man. I think joy and happiness is what Charles wanted in life (not so much, the money). In essence, I have a feeling that he may have never wanted to grow up, just like peter pan – to stay young at heart – even though his characters on film, depicted a somewhat sad story of “never getting the girl”, and/or “living in poverty” – a depressive perspective on reality with an atmosphere of melancholy (The Melancholy That Forged A Comic Genius).
I watched a film recently, directed by Richard Attenborough and starred by Robert Downey Jr. – Chaplin (1992) – which was a dramatization and telling of the famous autobiography by Chaplin. This film is an absolute masterpiece and a great representation of film making and story telling. I think when watched in tandem with The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin, you can learn a great deal about Charles Chaplin. I know I did. But I will say that I want to read some of the many books about him, now. Chaplin lived an incredibly interesting life.
In the end, the one thing I think Charles would have wanted his followers to learn, was to smile, and to smile with others.