Charlie Chaplin: As I began to love myself

Charlie-Chaplin-007The Little Tramp grows and grows. Seemingly penniless, but rich beyond measure.

Allegedly written on his 70th birthday, Chaplin penned a few lessons for us all – as always:

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

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As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

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As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

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As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

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As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

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As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

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As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

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As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

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As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

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We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!

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posted by Dixie

 

Stanley Kubrick’s Top 10 Favourite Films…

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In 1963, Stanley Kubrick submitted the below list of his Top 10 favourite films to American magazine, Cinema – this is the first, and apparently only, time he ever submitted such a list:

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1. I Vitelloni (Fellini, 1953)

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2. Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957) – what an inspired poster!

Viktor: When you were little you believed in Santa Claus. Now you believe in God.

Kubrick, in a letter to Ingmar Bergman: “I believe you are the greatest film-maker at work today. Beyond that, allow me to say you are unsurpassed by anyone in the creation of mood and atmosphere, the subtlety of performance, the avoidance of the obvious, the truthfulness and completeness of characterization.”

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3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

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4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)

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5. City Lights (Chaplin, 1931)

Kubrick on Chaplin:

“If something is really happening on the screen, it isn’t crucial how it’s shot. Chaplin had such a simple cinematic style that it was almost like I Love Lucy, but you were always hypnotised by what was going on, unaware of the essentially non-cinematic style. He frequently used cheap sets, routine lighting and so forth, but he made great films. His films will probably last longer than anyone else’s.”

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6. Henry V (Olivier, 1944)

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7. La notte (Antonioni, 1961)

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8. The Bank Dick (Fields, 1940)

Roger Ebert on W.C. Fields:

“Assimilating the unique fact of W.C. Fields is a lifelong occupation for any filmgoer, conducted from time to time according to no particular plan. There is not a single Fields film that “must” be seen in order to qualify as a literate movie lover, and yet if you are not eventually familiar with Fields you are not a movie lover at all. What is amazing about him is that he exists at all. He is not lovely, and although he is graceful it is a lugubrious grace, a kind of balance in a high psychic wind. All of his scenes depend, in one way or another, on sharing his private state: He is unloved, he detests life, he is hung over, he wants a drink, he is startled by sudden movements and loud noises, he has no patience for fools, everyone is a fool, and middle-class morality is a conspiracy against the man who wants to find surcease in alcoholic bliss. These are not the feelings of his characters; they are his own feelings.”

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9. Roxie Hart (Wellman, 1942)

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10. Hell’s Angels (Hughes, 1930) – unbelievable trailer, by the way, that so callously boasts of the “ariel combat so real it took the lives of three pilots…”

posted by Dixie Turner

Famous Scenes: The ‘Roll Dance’ From Chaplin’s Gold Rush (1925)

When Chaplin released The Gold Rush in 1925, he announced that it was the film for which he wanted to be remembered – a statement he was to repeat often throughout his life. It was warmly received by critics and so well received by its audience that it became – and remained – the highest grossing silent comedy of all time.

The story follows the Tramp as he goes off to seek his fortune in the Alaskan gold fields, along with prospectors both good and greedy with whom he falls in and falls out. Naturally, he meets a girl who is ‘looking for an honest man’ with whom he falls in love, but she only toys with him and, having agreed she would meet him for New Year’s Eve dinner, she stands him up. Whilst waiting for his guest, the Tramp falls asleep and dreams of how he will win her:

This scene has been repeated and alluded to in various films ever since it’s release – in Godard’s Bande a part (1964), Anna Karina references it  just before the friends embark on a famous dance of their own. Also, Johnny Depp recreated it in Benny and Joon:

And, more recently, Amy Adams references it in the ‘Me Party’ scene in The Muppets (“what happens at a me party, stays at a me party” – got to love that).

Chaplin went to great lengths to get the look and the feel of the film right, initially filming several scenes on location but eventually abandoning this and creating fantastic sets in his studio instead. The cinematography is at times breathtaking and the special effects are pretty astonishing given the time (see the scene where the mountain gives way – it actually looks pretty decent even by today’s standards). The mise-en-scene and characterizations of the supporting cast are delivered with an incredible eye for detail, which, given that it is Chaplin after all, isn’t surprising and yet, this still stands out from the rest of his films.

The rugged beauty of the landscape, the authenticity of the gnarly-looking hang-abouts in the saloon – adventurers and opportunists, dirty and desperate – and the violence and murder are all pretty sobering stuff, and more what you’d expect from a drama or a western of its time. But of course, as I’m sure Chaplin believed, there’s no reason why comedy can’t also be high art – and The Gold Rush is a good example of this.

A word of warning, the film was re-issued by Chaplin in 1942, partially re-edited and a new (Oscar-winning) score was added. All well. However, Chaplin also added descriptive dialogue which he delivered himself which at times feels cumbersome and unnecessary, detracting at times from the sublime visual comedy. The film is only available in this format and it’s not so annoying once you get used to it, so don’t be put off.

Anyway, here is a shot from the final scene which didn’t make the re-edit (Chaplin removed it as, at the time of making the film he and his co-star, Georgina Hale, were having an affair – perhaps the older Chaplin cringed at the memory of this indiscretion, but if he did, one imagines he only cringed in public):

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posted by Dixie Turner

Favourite Scenes: Chaplin and Keaton in Limelight (1952)

When Charlie Chaplin finished directing Limelight he had no way of knowing it was to be his last film made on American shores. In fact, when he went across to England for the film’s British premier, he had no idea that the country that had been his home for so many years would refuse him re-entry, supposedly for his ‘communist’ sympathies. The film is a fitting farewell – Chaplin plays an ageing and alcoholic music-hall comic, Calvero, once famous for his character of the Tramp, but now almost forgotten and unable to find work. Chaplin plays Calvero as something of a humanist philosopher, infected by what he calls a ‘sad dignity’ which, as he explains, is clearly fatal for a comic; the desire, as one gets older, to ‘live deeply’; to feel the profound expanses of the heart and soul – into which small laughs drop with deafening echoes.

Into his care comes a young, troubled ballerina, Thereza (played by Claire Bloom – Look Back in Anger) intent on ending her own life, but Calvero raises her spirits, encouraging her with great conviction that she must fight for her happiness and, in turn, as she regains her strength and her position as a dancer, she attempts to return the favour by finding Calvero work. Towards the end of the film, a benefit concert is staged for Calvero who entertains the audience with the following piece of pure comic genius – the one truly hilarious scene in what is otherwise a fairly sober (and, at times, overly sentimental) film. Calvero’s partner in the scene is played by Buster Keaton who need hardly do anything at all to make you fall right off your chair with uncontrollable mirth:


Trivia: As Chaplin fell victim to the McCarthy era communist witch-hunts which swept through Hollywood, Limelight was hardly shown in America until the 1970s, when it – and Chaplin – finally got some of the recognition it deserved. Chaplin won an Oscar for the score which, as usual, he composed himself.

The assistant director on Limelight was Robert Aldrich, who went on to direct Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and the Dirty Dozen.