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17 June 2011

[Silent Film Marathon]1# The Kid (1921)

Written, Directed & Produced By: Charlie Chaplin
Music By: Charlie Chaplin
Genre: Classics, Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 68 Minutes
           
When it comes to artistic quality Chaplin hits the spot. Knowing that a 60 minute silent film can be as powerful as this is impressive. Making films was very hard to do and to do correctly, but the famous stars like Chaplin, Buster Keaton and all those other guys knew what they were doing. The Kid shows Chaplin’s iconic character, The Tramp wondering the streets as usual in his debonair and goofy way. He soon finds a child and takes him in as his own and takes care of it for five years. The plot is simplistic beauty and the film was actually very funny. It’s the kind of humour that anyone can laugh at. With it’s simplistic nature, all the slapstick is clever, inventive and very funny. Chaplin being the director, producer, writer main actor and even music composer works out well in this production. The music was touching and the overall cinematography is superb. It’s impressive because he is doing all those jobs for the film and it manages to come out fresh as ever. Today films are too big and take more time to make so one guy can’ do five different things. Also note that this is his very first feature film and sure shows his directorial début of silent film making. This kind of creative control never happens in today's films but we still have those directors who act, write, produce and direct.

The wonderful thing is how Chaplin has created such a simple plot it creates the depth for itself. The film opens with a sequence showing us a woman and her baby. She leaves the baby in a car with a note saying take care of this motherless child. We discover it’s two robbers who get back in the ca. they discover the baby and dump it into an alleyway. Pretty soon, along comes The Tramp smoking his cigarette butts he keeps in a mint tin. He takes the child in for himself, taking the name of John. The film skips five years later and the relationship is powerful. When I say simplistic, I mean of the whole idea that The Tramp has a child, he loves him, and will do anything to keep him, as any father likely would. Eventually in the story the child gets sick so The Doctor is sent over and the child gets taken away from him as The Tramp is not the real father. The Tramp tries to stop the police officer and Child welfare officer from taking his kid away, but fails. He eventually gets down the stairs and snatches his kid and they run away. The story is beautiful and golden because of it’s simple nature.
The Tramp with the Child.
Like most of Chaplin’s silent workings, actions speak louder than words. Telling a story with only facial expressions and body action isn’t easy, but Chaplin perfected it. Fast motion represents anger, joy or panicking while slow motions represent sadness, sorrow and so on. As I said, this film has beautiful emotion because it’s simplistic nature and feels very sincere.
Two men stopping The tramp from getting his child back.
Staring at the child you never rose [extra note]
Now this was a wonderful contrast. The fact that the woman is staring at the very child that she abandoned was fascinating. The interesting thing is only the audience knows that.


Clever Fighting
The Tramp trying to settle a fight.
This is probably the most memorable scene from the film and it was terrific. It was funny, well-co-ordinated and the way the characters moved was powerful. The Tramp’s kid (John) is sitting on the doorstep and some rough kid who is probably 2-3 years older than John. He tries to take John’s toy away but John fights him, and somehow was winning. The size difference is what made it interesting. The smaller, the easier to dodge I’d say. So the kid’s big brother comes along and he just looked hilarious. You could see he was wearing a costume to make him look buff and it was a clever exaggeration. The Tramp comes out and sees the fight and the other kids brother says to him “If your kid beats my brother, I’m gonna beat you”. So it happens and The Tramp cleverly dodges every swing and it was terrific. It’s probably one of the best co-ordinated comedy sequences in silent film, lest we forget that it was very funny.

Overall:
With silent films, not everyone can fully appreciate the artistic quality which is understandable to the younger generation, but there is a lot to learn from films like this. Not only are they great on a cinematographic scale, but they are delightfully entertaining. Chaplin is definitely one of the greatest directors and his legacy will go on. I just wonder what people’s reactions to his films will be in 50 years’ time. This is definitely one of Chaplin's finest films that is beautiful in every aspect.





My Rating: 10/10

 

2 comments:

  1. As much as I love slapstick, I can't believe I've never watched any Chaplin. Your silent film reviews are some of the best!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A very touching film. I loved the little dig Chaplin got in at audiences early in the film where he describes the woman as being guilty of the crime of being a mother.

    ReplyDelete

 

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