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Chaplin (1992)

A film about the troubled and controversial life of the master comedy filmmaker Charles Chaplin.

Writers:

(book), (book) | 4 more credits »
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2,722 ( 151)

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ON DISC
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Lita Grey (as Deborah Maria Moore)
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Storyline

The biography of Charlie Chaplin, filmmaker extraordinaire. From his formative years in England to his highest successes in America, Charlie's life, work, and loves are followed. While his screen characters were extremely hilarious, the man behind "The Little Tramp" was constantly haunted by a sense of loss. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He made the whole world laugh and cry. He will again. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

8 January 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Чaплин  »

Box Office

Budget:

$31,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$9,493,259 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of many collaborations between Anthony Hopkins and director Richard Attenborough, which includes A Bridge Too Far (1977), Magic (1978) and Shadowlands (1993). See more »

Goofs

Towards the end of the movie there is a shot of the New York waterfront with the French ocean liner SS Normandie in the foreground, the subtitle showed the year as 1952. The Normandie was seized by the US government in 1942 and as she was being converted to a troop ship, caught fire and capsized at her dock. She was sold for scrap four years later. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
George Hayden: Ha ha ha ha ha. Come on Charlie stop messing about, we really have to get down to it now. I just hope our friendship survives the day, that's all.
Charlie Chaplin: Ha George, don't be so melodramatic.
George Hayden: Well, it's your autobiography Charlie. And as your editor I have to tell you that parts of the manuscript are pretty vague, to say the least. I mean for instance, your mother. Now when did she first lose control? We need to know those facts.
Charlie Chaplin: It's hard to say. She could be so wonderful, on good days...
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Soundtracks

I DREAMT I DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS
Alfred Bunn and Michael William Balfe (as Michael Balfe)
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User Reviews

 
Misguided - with so much potential...
20 May 2008 | by See all my reviews

The first thing one should know about "Chaplin" is that, paradoxically, very little of it has to do with Chaplin. Or, at least, it has more to do with the writers' illusions of him. The film claims to be based on "My Autobiography" and on "Chaplin: His Life and Art", by David Robinson. Having re-read the Autobiography before watching the film, it is clear to me that what the writers did was take basic incidents from the autobiography and embellish them with, I can only assume, parts of the Robinson book. What results is a series of scenes which were vaguely influenced by the facts, but so simplified and primitive that little of the original truth remains.

What the writers did not wish to acknowledge was that when Chaplin wrote vaguely or skimmed past certain parts of his life, he really didn't want anyone to delve into them - and the filmmakers did just that. "Chaplin" is not really about Charlie Chaplin, his work and films. It is simply ceaseless speculation on his personal life, but going on even more vaguely about it than the Autobiography.

I am well aware that almost every biopic focuses more on the personal life of a person than on their work. The problem is that most of the characters in "Chaplin" are so exaggerated and simplified that they become almost completely unbelievable - both as the real people AND as fictional characters. None of them are fully developed. This is not entirely the fault of the supporting cast (although it really is not that interesting): the fault lies with the screenplay, which is too often bland and melodramatic. This is especially obvious in the ridiculous subplot concerning the older Chaplin and his editor, which is the most pointless and badly done part of the film; even Hopkins cannot make the lines sound credible, which is all the proof anyone needs of their mediocrity. The film would have worked immeasurably better without these additions.

Many of the most interesting aspects and parts of Chaplin's life are completely ignored, oddly, with seemingly irrelevant or less important stories added in for little reason. One scene in particular is added only to insert a Chaplin-esquire physical comedy sequence which falls flat. The writers greatly accentuated everything to do with Hetty Kelly, even making the same actress play Oona O'Neill; the tried too hard to give him some kind of motive for his relationships, which only leads to more bias and speculation; and although I am by no means a Chaplin purist or even a very knowledgeable admirer, the blatant alterations on the actual history grated on my nerves.

All this being said, the film is certainly not a terrible one. Mainly, however, this is for one reason only, and that is - yes - Robert Downey Jr. himself. The praise he received for the role is by no means undeserved. As Chaplin he is perfect, managing to make the best out of his rather predictable lines, remaining interesting, believable, and in many parts moving. He has wonderful timing and intensity, and even looks the part (he could even do the roll dance). I really quite believed he was Chaplin. Even his performance, however, suffers greatly because of the lines - and the flash-forwards. I have no doubt that he could have played an even better Charlie Chaplin in a differently made film.

The greatest scene in "Chaplin", I think, is the opening credits: Charlie arrives in his dressing room, alone, sits, and begins to remove his make-up. The scene is in black and white, and there is no dialogue

  • only music. Every emotion is expressed simply through his eyes. If


the rest of the film had been made like this, I actually think it could have been perfect. Either way, the lead performance is astounding, the music is beautiful, and though not very insightful or too true to history, this film is well worth watching.


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