We talked about Charlie Chaplin already, but we talked about the importance of the Tramp as a character, and his place in silent film history. And, to a lesser extent, we talked about two-reel comedy shorts, which are a very famous section of film history, especially during the years we talked about them.
This, however, is a different animal. This is Charlie Chaplin doing features. And I will be talking specifically about this film, and specifically how Chaplin managed to infuse comedy with drama, and tell a story that makes an audience laugh and cry at the same time. The man was truly a master at eliciting emotion.
Look at the sequence in this movie where they come to take the kid away, and the Tramp runs across the rooftops to get him back. It’s so heartbreaking. The whole thing. Chaplin really manages to turn the movie on a dime. He gets you invested in the characters through comedy, and then makes things dramatic on you. And it works. You don’t turn on the film at all. Instead, you’re really invested in what happens to the characters. And that’s a really great skill to have that not many people can do correctly. There’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy, and Chaplin really manages to know exactly how and when to walk that line. (more…)