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  • Aurora Giachin - Liceo C. Beccaria

Charlie Chaplin: the art of silence

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in South London on April 16, 1889. His family was very poor and he and his brother sang on the streets to get money for food. When he was nine he became a professional actor. He loved playing with his mother, imitating people. Soon Charlie went to America with a British theater group. Americans didn't like the group but they loved Charlie. Then he went to Hollywood and made his first film "Making A Living" in 1914.

He made funny comedies in silly and funny situations - jumping in front of cars or trains, falling down stairs - anything that could make people laugh. But sometimes he was tender and made people cry. When he made "Kid Auto Race in Venice" in 1914, his producer Mark Sennet said to Charlie "go and wear the clothes - all the clothes - and do something fun in the face". Charlie wore too large trousers and shoes, one coat and one bowler hat that was too small and with a mustache... and Little Fellow or The Tramp was born. The wanderer was funny but he was also stubborn and individualistic. When Charlie Chaplin became a star, he moved to New York and made his brother Sydney his agent.

When the era of silent movies was over and talking or "talkie" movies came, he was worried. His type of humor was better without words. So Charlie compromised: he put music and dance in his films but without words.

In 1936 he made the famous "Modern Times" on two vagabonds in a hostile mechanical world.

In 1940 he made "The great dictator", his first "talkie", against fascism and Nazism. At the end of the Second World War it became much less popular. Many Americans considered him a communist because he was in solidarity with the Soviet Union. For this reason, in the 1950s, he and many other famous actors and writers had problems with the government and were not allowed to work. His fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill made him even more unpopular: he was fifty-four and she was eighteen.

In 1952, after his last great film "Limelight" - in which he played an old actor who dies because people don't find it more fun - he went to Europe with his family for a boat holiday, when he got the news that the United States government wouldn’t allow him back into the country.

Years later the United States asked him to return. He went to visit and collect his Oscar in 1972. Being a British citizen, he was also honored by the Queen of England.

He lived the last twenty-five years of his life in exile in Switzerland with Oona and their eight children. The actor got married and divorced three times, each time with a much younger girl, and the newspapers started criticizing him.

Charlie Chaplin died in 1977 on Christmas day in Vevey, Switzerland. People everywhere still love to watch his funny and sad movies because they are in a universal language that everyone can understand.

Di Aurora Giachin, Liceo C. Beccaria, 1°C


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