To celebrate my two month anniversary, I painted someone who isn't just one of my favorite actors, directors, composers and writers but one of my all-time favorite people. Period. Of course from the title of my post and from the aforementioned job description, I can't be speaking of anyone other than the brilliant Charlie Chaplin.
Oh, Charlie Chaplin. Where to begin? People who know me personally are by now aware of my infinite admiration for Charlie Chaplin. I'm known to go off on hour-long tangents just marveling at his genius. I think he was just as brilliant as one of his close friends, Albert Einstein-- he just used his genius for making movies instead of figuring out the theory of relativity.
Rather than slide into one of my little (well, big) raves about Charlie Chaplin and his incredible mind, I will simply explain why two of his films are counted among my absolute favorites.
First, The Pilgrim. This was a short comedy that Chaplin made about an escaped convict who disguises himself as a priest in a small town. I actually don't know how to explain why this is a favorite-- it just is. If you see it, you'll understand why I so adore it.
Now, my favorite Chaplin film (that also has the distinct honor of being in my very exclusive TOP FIVE list!) is Monsieur Verdoux. I was incredibly lucky last year to see it on the big screen in Pennsylvania, only a few days after my birthday. Best... Present... Ever. This is one of those few films where every piece of the puzzle aligned to form a perfect movie. The music, the acting, the script, the casting, the direction... every single thing in this film was perfect, from Chaplin's part as an ethical bluebeard right down to the tiniest of supporting roles.
Chaplin was an expert at combining melodrama with comedy (think The Kid, a movie that has you crying from laughing too hard at one point, and then a minute later crying because you are so heartbroken.) And Monsieur Verdoux may be the best example of his genre-defying genius. At its core, this is a movie about the ethics of war vs. murder. If a man kills in civilian life, he is a villan. If a man kills in war, he is a hero. (Chaplin's point wasn't that murder is okay, but that all violence should be eradicated, including violence in war) It's also a movie about love and family, and the things we will do, no matter how awful those things may be, to protect the people we love. And although Chaplin's character is a polished and wealthy gentleman, it's a film that I think brought back The Little Tramp (which Chaplin preferred to call "The Little Fellow".) Underneath his shiny exterior, Chaplin is still playing a hurt little guy that's just trying to get by in a very bleak world.
Of course Chaplin's genius is combining this melodramatic, moralistic tale with humor that makes your sides ache. Every time I've seen the movie (and trust me, I've seen it A LOT) I still laugh hysterically.
Charlie Chaplin was a man who put his star power to great use, even when it meant being blacklisted from Hollywood. His pictures The Great Dictator and Monsieur Verdoux were not welcomed with open arms; at the time they were seen as too radical. But time has sided with Chaplin. Every one of his films is now a classic; Chaplin himself is now a movie legend. And I could probably count on one hand the number of people who would still call The Great Dictator "radical." If only he were alive today.... Chaplin would surely have the last laugh. (Oh, so cliche.. but it fits so well...)
Thanks to everyone who has been reading my run-on sentences and putting up with innumerable amounts of smiley face emoticons for the past two months :)