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Charlie Chaplin - The Essanay Films - Vol. 1  [DVD]
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CHARLIE CHAPLIN THE ESSANAY FILMS VOLUME 1
Written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin
In December 1914, Charlie Chaplin began his one-year contract with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, shooting films in both their Chicago and California studios. In the one year he made fifteen films, earned an unprecedented salary and established himself as a firm box-office favourite. Audiences around the world clamoured to see his latest Essanay picture.
Unlike other artists, Chaplin had full control over his Essanay films from writing the scripts and directing through to choosing his cast members. Having trouble finding a leading lady, on one occasion he tested a rising young Essanay actress, and then promptly dismissed her. Her name was Gloria Swanson.
The films in this collection include The Champion, in which Charlie is rescued from a boxing match by his faithful dog, His New Job which parodies the filmmaking process, and The Tramp which forever established the image of Charlie's much-beloved lonesome tramp in the popular imagination.Despite their obvious importance, Charlie's Essanay films have only previously been available in poor or incomplete prints. The films in this edition are the result of a nine-year search to find the best materials. These are the most complete editions available, and include scenes never before seen by audiences in the UK.
- His New Job
- A Night Out
- The Champion
- In the Park
- A Jitney Elopement
- The Tramp
- By the Sea
DVD Extra features include a photo gallery and essay on Chaplin at Essanay
USA | 1915 | black & white and tinted | silent with music | 204 minutes | 2 discs | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD
One of Charlie Chaplin's most personal projects was 1952's Limelight for which he composed the unforgettably haunting score and which featured his son Sydney in a major supporting role. The result is a bittersweet masterwork, a May-September romance between an ascendant ballerina (Claire Bloom in only her second film) and a fading clown. Script and performances are superb, and though entirely studio-made, with London recreated in America, Chaplin's great visual sensibility ensures the production never feels stage-bound. The story harks back to the glory years of Music Hall and in fictionalised form draws heavily on Chaplin's experiences as recounted in his superb autobiography.
More affectionate and philosophical than the comparable Sunset Boulevard (1950), the story movingly echoes A Star is Born (1937) and The Red Shoes (1948), while one brilliant touch is the inclusion of Chaplin's fellow "silent" era star, Buster Keaton as his stage partner. Comedy is not forgotten, but this is at heart a moving reflection on the passage of time, a deeply autobiographical work in which the never seen background of the Great War is an ironic contrast to Chaplin's celebration of youth, theatre, music, love and life itself.
On the DVD: Limelight is presented in the original 4:3 black and white with excellent mono sound and a picture which apart from a little unobtrusive grain is absolutely immaculate. Also included are French and Italian-dubbed versions and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 version of the soundtrack, which simply adds unnecessary spatial processing to the mono original. The disc features multiple subtitle options, including English for hard of hearing.
Disc 2 features a very useful six-minute introduction by David Robinson and an excellent 26-minute new documentary featuring contributions from Claire Bloom, Sydney Chaplin and Bernardo Bertolucci. One remarkable extra is Chaplin's entire Oscar-winning 58-minute score available as 36 separate musical cues in excellent mono. There is a four-minute scene that was included in the original release of the film and later cut, an unfinished short from 1919, The Professor (6 min), which introduces the flea circus idea developed in Limelight, as well as English and Italian trailers. Also included is a nine-section photo gallery and selection of posters, as well as two extracts from Chaplin reading Footlights, the unpublished novel upon which he based the film. Finally, 15 minutes of colour home movies show the star with his family in 1950 and more remarkably, revisiting the London of his youth in 1959. --Gary S Dalkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
His New Job, A Night Out, The Champion, In the Park, A Jitney Elopement, The Tramp, By the Sea and Work.
Six of the films are two reelers and two are one reelers.
The films are important because they represent Chaplin's transitional period from the knock about comedy of Keystone to the more mature Mutual films.
Some the films such as 'In the Park' and 'By the Sea' could just as easily have been made at Keystone, while such as the 'Champion' and 'The Tramp' are undisputed classics.
The films on this DVD have been restored by the film historian David Sheppard and contain many scenes not seen in years. All the films inter titles have also been reinstated so it is now actually possible to follow the plot of the films. (Unlike many editions seen on video and DVD over the years). The music which plays while the films are on is also very good.
Overall this is a very good package, I would recommend it and volume two to any one who likes silent comedy or Chaplin films. Even if you own the films in previous editions these sets are worth buying since you will be able to see the films in the best condition possible.
It's a crime for any so-called film fan not to have at least one of Chaplin's masterpieces in their collection.
The Gold Rush was Chaplin's own favourite, and mine.
Another common problem is that revised versions are made of our most famous silent films, introducing narration, different edits, and of course music. This is the case with Chaplin's classic, but Chaplin himself oversaw the production of the revised version in 1942, and included his own narration and music, and his own re-editing of the material. Thus the integrity of the work was preserved, however for those interested, the 1925 original is presented alongside. The music added to the silent version is meticulously performed by Neil Brand, who is something of an expert in silent film music, accompanying silent screenings up and down the country after careful research. This avoids the third pitfall: clumsy or repetitive music.
The film itself is a joy to watch, particularly in the revised form. Chaplin's "little fellow" (he is not really a tramp here, he is just like all the other prospectors) is seeking his fortune in the Wild West at the time of the gold rush, and during his adventures must deal with very big bullies with big beards, hunger, poverty, several feet of snow, and a few beautiful women.Read more ›
The story concerns the gentle little tramp struggling to survive amongst the tough grizzled prospectors of the Klondike gold rush in Alaska's inhospitable climate. The film shows how innovative Chaplin could be and contains many inspired comic inventions. The old boot that starts to look like a turkey dinner in the tramps starved and fevered condition. The nails becoming bones to be sucked, and the laces delicious strands of pasta. Then there is the house teetering on the precipice and perhaps one of cinemas most enduring moments with the enchanting dance of the bread rolls. A scene that truly embodies the heights of beauty that cinema can attain.
In 1958 an international jury in Brussels voted this the second greatest film ever made behind "The Battleship Potemkin". But in the intervening years it has been treated like an old once cherished toy put in the attic, where it has slowly been gathering dust. It simply amazes me that such an important cinematic work can be so forgotten by the general public. Look at how many people have found the other reviews helpful. Not many. Sometimes I don't know why I bother. So we beat on, boats against the current. This is the only DVD available and there are only a dwindling number of those left. The high price asked seems to reflect their scarcity. The serious student of the cinema should certainly have one Chaplin film in their collection, and I would suggest they break the bank and make it this one. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More magic from the cellulloid genius, nearly 100 years old some of these films.Published 12 months ago by Michael Jenkins
Chaplin's greatest film? That's hard to say as the competition is so wonderful too. In this film, every moment is perfection. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Simon Turner
Knowing nothing about Charlie Chaplin films, I opted for this one, which had good write-ups. Apart from being a visually appealing and highly entertaining film, I also found the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Phil