Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Impact of Charlie Chaplin

For further research I have looked in more depth at Charlie Chaplin to get a better insight as to why his Silent Films were so important and how he became so iconic.
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin was an influential actor and filmmaker during the silent film era in the early twenty-first century and the first international film star, signed at the young age of nineteen. Prior to Chaplin's breakthrough, cinema in this time period was fairly dull using heavy subject matters that became repetitive. Similarly, it is apparent that in Chaplin's films, there are elements of drama and in some cases tragedy; however, the thing which made his work original was that he portrayed them with a comic tone.
The biggest inspiration for Chaplin was his mother, claiming she was one of the best pantomime artists he had ever seen. His years with the Fred Karno Company also had an impact on him. He then emerged into an iconic figure and an inspiration to many people due to creating the slapstick style of comedy which is still around to this day, and also for his different persona which he named “The Tramp”, more than likely inspired by the American genre of film called Vaudeville.
This persona (first seen in Making a Living) is said to be one of the most iconic images in cinema ever, with it being recognizable to even people that have not seen a Charlie Chaplin film. “The Tramp” influenced other well-known figures such as Laurel and Hardy, showing the development of cinema, bringing their new ideas as well as Chaplin's original ideas to film. This shows that if he never initially brought his own slapstick comedy to film, then people may not have ever known a comedy like it as there would be nothing to develop from.
Chaplin's original ideas also improved in time as he learned how to change the pace of the action content of a film, making it not constant action throughout, but reeling the audience in so that it builds up suspense and uniqueness. A Woman of Paris is his only drama film which was part of the development of sophisticated comedy films, shown by it influencing heavily in Ernst Lubitsch's silent film The Marriage Circle.
The way in which Hardy experimented with several different types of comedy allowed other filmmakers to become more ambitious when producing their own films as it gave them inspiration, for example French comic actor, director and writer Jacques Tati states “without him I would never have made a film”, and in doing so Tati then went on to be named forty-sixth Greatest Movie Director of all time. Another innovative filmmaker, RenĂ© Clair, used the bold statement “he inspired practically every filmmaker”, also showing how influential his film making style was and how it has been developed over time.
Slapstick comedy can be seen in more modern films as well such as Frank Coraci's The Water Boy, Dennis Dugan's Happy Gilmore and the franchise of comedy films Scary Movie. Although cinema has evolved to a more professional standard with there now being colour and sound, it is obvious that Charlie Chaplin was the reason why so many filmmakers create products based around a comic nature, all down to Chaplin's revolutionary ideas, thus making him an extremely significant figure.

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