Chaplin (1992 – Blu-Ray)

“Motion Pictures are for the people, most of the people work for a living and they don’t make much money doing it. It gives them pleasure to see an official from the upper classes getting a kick up the backside. Always has, and it always will”

I decided to take a break in my Chaplin-athon to re-watch Richard Attenborough’s celebrated 1992 biopic ‘Chaplin’. The Blu-Ray picture is one of the best I’ve seen with rich deep autumnal colours and astounding picture detail. Sadly the sound is merely in stereo and there are no extras whatsoever which lets this disc down somewhat.

Some have criticised Attenborough’s decision to work in Chaplin’s most famous gags into the scenes. But I disagree as for the most part they feel seamlessly woven in to the narrative and illustrate his inspirations. For example the ‘Dance of the bread-rolls’ (From ‘The Gold Rush’) is used to illustrate Chaplin’s disdain of J. Edgar Hoover’s anti-communist rhetoric.  Robert Downey Jr’s central performance is so brilliant that when real footage of Chaplin is used you barely notice the difference.  The scratchy look of this footage is testament to how much work has gone into restoring the blemish free Chaplin collection that I own in the last twenty years.  The supporting cast playing Hollywood cameos is uniformly excellent too with Kevin Kline’s turn as Douglas Fairbanks having an enormous emotional impact in his few short scenes.  ‘Chaplin’ may not be on the scale of 1982’s ‘Gandhi’ but it’s all the better for it, as it gets to the heart and drive of the man.

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