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4.6 out of 5 stars119
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 March 2012
OK - first thing's first; I am a massive Chaplin fan and I think this film is brilliant. I am well aware that it has flaws but this is down to being forced to cut the film down and therefore removing vital character scenes.
'Chaplin' is a touching film that tells the icon's life story in a memorable and sometimes hilarious way. Richard Attenborough tackled an awesome project and it was never going to be easy - but he pulls it off brilliantly. Yes, it flies through important periods like 'Monsieur Verdoux' and 'Limelight' - not to mention Chaplin's return to London film-making. However, these scenes were almost shot but removed later. Edna, Chaplin's leading lady in the early days is also under-used, but these are minor quibbles - the film is beautiful and everything you want from a biopic.

The casting of Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic; I cannot imagine anyone else pulling this job off any better. There are scenes in which you can easily be forgiven for believing that you are seeing the real Charlie. Having Chaplin's real-life daughter, Geraldine, play her own grandmother gives the film the family-seal-of-approval that was essential for this to work. Her performance is tragic and inspiring in equal measure.

Anyway, this wasn't going to be a review of the film, but the Blu-Ray.

First, the bad points:
- The DVDs I owned (both US and UK) ten years ago had an entire chocolate box of extras. Documentaries, on-set interviews with the cast. Some of it was repetitive, but extremely interesting nonetheless. This Blu-Ray has NO extras. Not even a trailer. Could they not even have got the always fascinating biographer David Robinson in to do a commentary track? Apparently not.
- The audio is merely stereo. Now, I realise that the original film was stereo so I am being a snob but you are talking about a film that contains one of John Barry's later amazing scores. Having that swimming around in the rear channels would have been beautiful. I was expecting that for this release, but all you get is stereo.

Now, the brilliant good points():
- The picture is a vast improvement on any VHS or DVD copies I have owned over the years. Colours are much improved and while the film has a vintage look anyway it is not nearly as soft as previous releases. I really wasn't expecting much but it was lovely to see the film looking this good! The scenes in Vevey and Victorian London benefit in particular from this release.
- The sound, despite my complaints above, is gorgeous. Yes, it's only two channels, but the quality is a massive improvement over ANY previous release. On my old versions (both VHS and DVD) any low frequencies (Chaplin humming 'The Honeysuckle and The Bee' at the beginning, or background atmosphere noise, traffic, people, nature etc) were muffled and had no treble or top end to speak of. That made some of the dialogue difficult to understand in these versions. These problems are completely gone in this Blu-Ray release, I am VERY pleased to say. The sound quality was my biggest annoyance of previous releases.

All in all and minor, pompous complaints aside, this is a gorgeous addition to my blu-ray collection. Not just because the film is beautiful and just the sort of biopic Chaplin deserved, but also because of the transformation and new lease of life it has been given on Blu-Ray.
This is not 'Avatar' - you will not be able to pin point veins in people's eyes - it is a film from 1992 after all. But this is also not the first release of 'Predator' which was softened and 'digitally' enhanced to within an inch of its life.

'Chaplin' is probably what all films from older stock should look like in full HD. This is a modest package, but if you own this on VHS or even the more recent DVD you won't be disappointed.

----------------

As an aside, 'Chaplin' was released in the UK by 'Optimum Home' who (in my collection at least) have a solid reputation for releasing films that might be light on the extras but are heavy on the picture and sound quality. I have yet to be disappointed by one of their releases. The point, after all, is to enjoy the film at its very best and they have certainly succeeded with 'Chaplin' in presenting it at not only its very best, but the best I have ever seen or heard it.

TS
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To try and deliver a movie about the life of the great Charlie Chaplin was a very big ask but Richard Attenborough did a fine job here. This isn't really about Charlie the film maker, it is more about his private life and the very many trials and tribulations that went on behind the scenes.

Robert Downey Jr is outstanding as Chaplin and really did a great job. I found him particularly effective when he portrayed Chaplin as an older man and he deserves the many plaudits that he received for his performance. Many, many women played a part in Chaplin's life and there is screen time given to several ladies although many of the appearances are brief. For me the actresses that made the most impact were Geraldine Chaplin as his mother Hannah and Marisa Tomei as Mabel Normand. A curious piece of casting was Moira Kelly in the dual roles of Hetty Kelly and Ooona O' Neil. This did appear a little odd but perhaps the director chose the same person as the first and last loves of Chaplin's life in order to give the movie some sense of balance. Still, what do I know?

There is a nice sense of period and a very effective musical score from John Barry. The reason it falls short of five stars is that I just wanted to see more of Chaplin's movie making process and also a little more of Downey Jr as the tramp. Still, as stated earlier, this is really a movie about his private life and I did like the ending with a very insecure Chaplin listening to laughter and applause as he waited in the wings to receive a special Oscar. This is a good movie and quite possibly underrated with a lead performance that is extremely impressive.
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on 19 February 2008
This is an amusing yet poignant film, directed by Richard Attenborough, about the life of Charles Chaplin. The star turn is Robert Downey Jr, who is exceptional as Chaplin; the film has a strong cast (including Anthony Hopkins, John Thaw, Dan Ackroyd, David Duchovny, Milla Jovovich, and Kevin Kline (particularly good as Douglas Fairbanks). 'Chaplin' is beautifully filmed - particularly Victorian London (where Chaplin lived in poverty as a child) and the early days of Hollywood, where studios were not too far from orange groves and the countryside. This was a time when the air was clear and the light was special. The DVD has a few short extras that look at the making of the film and include interviews with Richard Attenborough, Robert Downey Jr and others. This is a really entertaining film and excellent value for money. Recommended.
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on 22 April 2005
Well. What can be said about Robert Downey Jnrs performance as Chaplin that hasn't already been said? Brilliant. Mesmerising. Superb. Perhaps all of these & yet so much more as well. Downeys performance is simply magnificent as the tortured genius, how he came to be overlooked for an Oscar is just scandalous. I defy anyone to watch this film & not feel the tears welling at the emotional oscar tribute scene at the films climax. It is such a wondrously moving & poignant moment that anyone not moved by its power & beauty really should check to see if they still have a pulse.
The tag line that accompanied the film on its original cinematic release really does sum Chaplin up ; 'He made the whole world laugh & cry. He will again'. Pure genius.
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on 9 July 2009
Richard Attenborough had already proven he was masterful at bringing the life of a famous person to screen ten years before Chaplin was released, with the highly praised and awarded Gandhi. Though this film was more critically lauded than Chaplin, it is obvious that Attenborough is masterful at the sprawling biopic.

Chaplin obviously tells the story of one of the UK's most famous entertainers (Who ironically spent a great deal of his life in the US). From his humble beginnings in the poverty of Victorian London to his rise to become the most famous man on the planet at the time, to his fall from grace at the hands of America's communist paranoia, right up until his final years where he accepts a lifetime achievement award from The Academy. Today, he is known by his still-hilarious silent films and his comedy character The Little Tramp, but like many great comedians, he was a complex and sad man deep down.

The film spans almost all of the man's 88-year life, and the viewer really gets a feeling of a large space of time passing without ever becoming tired of the film (which is around two hours and twenty minutes long). This is partly because the events, locations and activities of Chaplin were many and pretty varied. Most of his life story is told as he relates his story to his biographer (Sir Anthony Hopkins). He engages in a great many relationships with different women, particularly younger ones. His career is also long and varied, starting out as a comic at the Hackney Empire, branching out into a silent film star, moving into "talkies", writing the musical Modern Times and co-forming United Artists Pictures.

The acting in the film is strong throughout, as you would expect from a stellar cast that includes Sir Anthony Hopkins, John Thaw, Dan Ackroyd, Kevin Kline, James Woods, Marisa Tomei, and Geraldine Chaplin, Charlie's daughter, playing her grandmother. But the most impressive has to be Robert Downey Jr., playing the lead role. If you have any doubts as to whether an American could play one of Britain's most famous sons, then this film will lay it to rest once and for all. He masters both the cockney accent from Chaplin's earlier years, and the more refined speech pattern he adopted once he had settled in America. But more than this he successfully conveys his driven attitude to his work (his comedy mannerisms are imitated extremely well), his frustration at changing times and his sadness at losing what he loved. Even as he is unrecognisable in prosthetics when playing Chaplin as an old man, he manages to ooze emotion and realism.

The production values for this film were highly praised, and this is obvious once you have seen it. The locations are expansive, authentic and beautiful. One memorable moment has Charlie and his brother attempting to conceal him from the police as they make their escape and is played in the style of his famous silent comedy films.

Chaplin is a fantastic biopic of one of the true greats of the entertainment world. If you have a love for cinema, comedy or any form of antertainment then this film will prove to be a fascinating insight into the world of this very interesting and flawed human being.
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on 25 July 2010
I've always felt that, generally, films that push close to two and a half hours are in need of a good editor, I mean, The Deer Hunter for example, that needed a good 40 minutes chopping out but Chaplin, at 139 minutes, never outstays its welcome and although the cockney accents are a little too cock-er-ney guvnor and Chaplin seems to go from a workhouse kid into The Tramp overnight, the film and Robert Downey jr. are excellent.
The supporting cast though are left with titbits to feed on, fleeting appearances by the likes of John Thaw, Nancy Travis, James Woods and Milla Jovovich who appears, barely says a word, bares her extremely pert arse before disappearing just as quick and only Kevin Kline and Anthony Hopkins get something to chew on but these are niggles.
I recommend this film and would also recommend Chaplin's autobiography.
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on 26 April 2005
A fantastic film with a stunning performance by Robert Downey Jnr as Chaplin. Emotional, funny & moving, superb entertainment & great acting all round. Brilliant.
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on 13 July 2012
CHAPLIN (directed by Richard Attenborough) is a wonderful film of the most influential and iconic artist of all time, Charles Caplin. The film could easily have been a complete flop as it is almost impossoble to find an actor who can play Chaplin convincingly but fortunately they picked the right man for the job. In the film Robert Downy Jr. plays Chaplin from his early adulthood to his very last days and for the performance he was rewarded as best actor ( BAFTA film awards).
Charles Chaplin's own daughter Geraldine Chaplin plays the role of her own grandmother, Charlie's mother. Knowing that there was a real Chaplin involved makes the film even more convincing which I find most important in these kinds of films. Those who were involved making this film succeeded in other ways as well. Storytelling seems to flow with ease. Dialogues are in balance with 'action'. And a stunningly beautiful peace of music composed by John Barry also gives room for Chaplin's own songwriting.
The only thing that I would complain about this bd is the very limited amount of languages for subtitles. For foreigners british accent isn't necessarely the easiest version of english but again credits for Downy jr. because even I can hear that he has rehearsed the accent pretty well :).
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on 14 January 2010
This film is a quite exceptional piece. Thoughtfully directed throughout it tells the story of The Little Tramp from his development of his comedy style in Vaudeville through to the high points of his movie career, and the lows of his personal life.

Robert Downey Jr is utterly convincing as Chaplin - both in his middle aged and elderly guise and completely captures the physicality of Charlie Chaplin. It's a tribute to him that when you see sequences in black and white you're not sure whether you are seeing original footage or Downey Jr's stylings. Its a lovely moment when you see him develop the walk for the first time. A fantastic supporting cast is present with Jon Thaw, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Kline, Dan Aykroyd and even Chaplins grand-daughter Geraldine Chaplin portraying Chaplins mother (so Geraldines own Grandmother).

Some excellent little touches are present - a brief nod to chaplin-esque chase scenes stands out in particular. It could not fit in, but is so well directed that it sits in well as a comic vignette.

This really is a film that can be enjoyed without any knowledge of Chaplins work. Just sit back and enjoy this very human story.
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on 22 September 2009
Let's face it - Iron Man WAS Robert Downey, Jr. and he was by far the best thing in Tropic Thunder. Downey, Jr. picks this movie up and walks off with it, delivering a simply mesmerizing performance as Charlie Chaplin, perfectly capturing his essence, a performance so flawless that you come to believe you are actually seeing Chaplin himself! Great supporting cast - Hopkins being the most notable - makes for a very fine biopic.
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