Unknown Chaplin: The Master at Work
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Top Customer Reviews
"Unknown Chaplin" was just released on DVD and is a must have addition for anyone even remotely interested in the history of film or filmmaking.
During production of "Hollywood", Brownlow and Gill naturally wanted to devote an entire hour to Chaplin but ran into a roadblock. The person who controlled access to Chaplin's work was only prepared to let them use a "snippet". They had to change their plans. They couldn't build an entire hour around a "snippet". After "Hollywood" aired, to great critical acclaim, they tried again. Chaplin's widow allowed them access to his personal vault. What they found there astonished them; row after row of film cans, many labeled with "City Lights", "The Gold Rush", "The Circus" and many with unfamiliar names. These contained clips never before seen, projects started but never finished and rehearsals for films like "City Lights". It was a treasure trove for any film historian.
Naturally, they believed they had just hit the mother load, but soon met a man named Raymond Rohauer.Read more ›
offers genuine insights into how he worked as a director.
Although his films, especially the early comedies, look almost casual in their creation, Chaplin often took dozens of takes, carefully analyzing each to see what made a sequence work or fail. A perfect example is THE CURE (1917), a two-reeler set at a health spa. Charlie agonized over the opening scenes of this comedy, even going so far as recasting parts and changing roles himself. He also rearranged some features of the main set to allow for bits of physical "business" not otherwise possible.
Yet in so doing, there were some genuinely funny sequences that had to be scrapped, such as Chaplin acting as traffic cop for a crowd of patients in wheelchairs. This because he chose after production began to play the Inebriate, a role Charlie had perfected years earlier in British music hall sketches. The original outtakes however still exist and are presented in this marvelous documentary.
We see the creation of a charming piece that was dropped from the opening of CITY LIGHTS (1931), seven minutes of pantomime involving a sidewalk grate with a piece of wood wedged in it. Charlie in his Little Tramp persona tries and repeatedly fails to push the wood through the grate with the tip of his cane. His frustrated efforts eventually attract a crowd of onlookers. It works well, yet director Chaplin decided this sequence unnecessarily delayed the real story, so he abandoned the finished scene.Read more ›
* One, it is narrated by marvelous, mellow voice of James Mason.
* Two, it consists of a series of outtakes taken from Chaplin's film. Cans and cans of these outtakes were discovered in the possession of a film collector, and provide a good look at Chaplin's artistic process in developing the stories and gags featured in his films. Chaplin usually threw his outtakes away, so the mere fact that these takes were found at all was noteworthy.
* Three, it features archival interviews of the surviving participants of Chaplin's films, most prominently Jackie Coogan, who much later in his career was Uncle Fester in the Munsters.
* Four, the documentary was made by the same people who produced the mini-series Hollywood, a documentary about silent films which was shown on PBS many years ago but is unfortunately very difficult to find.
With all these elements going for it, this documentary is highly recommended, but ....
The goal of this documentary is to show the artistic process of Charlie Chaplin through these newly-discovered outtakes. Take after take is shown that shows how he developed the films we all know and love.
While this documentary is obviously the result of painstaking research and production, I believe the seemingly endless progression of the numerous takes Chaplin employed to develop his themes will prove too tedious for the casual viewer.
The glue that holds this documentary together is the narration of James Mason, who if not the Voice of God, is surely second in command, and the judicious use of interviews to break the monotony . And of course there is the good fortune of seeing Charlie Chaplin out of the familiar context of his films.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
UNKNOWN CHAPLIN [1983 / 2006] [DVD] [UK Release] A Film Buffs "Must Have!" A Fitting Tribute To A Remarkable Movie Maker Genius! A Masterpiece About A Master! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the very best Chaplin documentaries, so well done and created with a love of this master.Published 3 months ago by qwiggly
For any Chaplin fan every minute will be magical. It will make those who know lttle about the man want to learn more. A must watch for any want to be filmmaker. Read morePublished 21 months ago by James Steven Miller
WOW! If you are an old movie era type person, this collection is amazing. Great movies, of Charlie directing and lots of
back stories. I love this DVD
This series has a great amount of behind the scenes and lost footage of one of the greatest director/actors. Loved it!Published on August 13, 2013 by Matt Walker
This delightful documentary shows the secrets of many clever tricks that were a mystery until two film historians studied Charles Chaplin's works. Read morePublished on May 23, 2013 by V. R. Padgett
This is a fascinating documentary giving a glimpse into how Chaplin made his films, which was an amazingly inefficient process on the surface. Read morePublished on July 24, 2011 by saskrs
Charlie Chaplin was very secretive about the way he worked, his biography generalising his methods almost to the point of obscurity, making this 1983 documentary from the makers of... Read morePublished on December 19, 2010 by Trevor Willsmer