Professor Jordan talked a lot about how Charlie Chaplin was and still is one of the most recognizable figures in history with his character of The Tramp. I wanted to look into it. Because I was never one for “silent” films, I didn’t really get the whole Chaplin thing. I mean, I know people have talked about him and said that he was important, but from what I saw, he was just another actor from back in the day.
A lot of what I saw showed that Chaplin was one of the biggest figures responsible for the transition of movies from what was essentially just a play on film to the medium we know them as today. As in, before (like we saw with A Trip To The Moon), the camera was in a single position and actors did their whole scenes in one take in front of it. Sure, the lack of voices meant that there had to be more expression, but that didn’t keep the actors from still acting in plays. Chaplin, even in a time when voices could be added to movies, made it much more expressive. The cameras focused on his expressions and his nonverbal communication. This was a huge impact for films, and still is today.
In fact, many actors still cite Chaplin as their inspiration for a lot of their performances. Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) got the inspiration for his “very funny things said in a very serious tone” style of acting form watching Charlie Chaplin. Even great actors like Charlie Depp try to emulate the great Chaplin in their films, and often have a hard time. Depp even had to do one of Chaplin’s famous dances (the one with the dinner rolls) in one of his movies, and said he struggled with just the level of talent that Chaplin had.
After death, Chaplin is still known as one of the great American actors. Many have written on his impact, Winston Churchill included. It’s ironic, considering that he was born in London.