1916: 2 movies

(Last updated 30 August 2012)

Behind the Screen
Directed, edited, co-written, co-produced, 
and starring Charles Chaplin
 Co-starring Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, and Albert Austin
Cinematography by Roland Totheroh
Set props by George Cleethorpe
Produced for Essanay Films

   Chaplin shows us the making of a movie, the difficulty of breaking in to the industry, the harsh overworking of cast and crew, and a glimpse at militant anarchy. That's enough material for several movies, but in Chaplin's hands they interweave at breakneck speed, all the while inciting our laughter. Along the way, we are also led to reflect on the nature of bullies, the problem of hunger, the desperation of the underdog, attitudes towards homosexuality, and more. 
   The glue in all of this is our identification with the lead character, Chaplin's tramp. He's not a stock thin outline of a character, but a fully-realized personality and one whose strengths and weaknesses we understand. He is good-natured, hard-working, clever, stubborn, and susceptible to love. In a sense, he is the ideal common person thrown into some exaggerated social problems, and so when we root for him we are also rooting for humanity. A revolutionary character in movie history.
   Each gag is brilliantly choreographed, acted, and edited.

The Vagabond
Directed, edited, co-written, co-produced,
 and starring Charles Chaplin
Co-starring Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, and Albert Austin
Some cinematography by Roland Totheroh
Set props by George Cleethorpe
Produced for Essanay Films

   Starting with a comedic gag, from the second scene on the movie changes gears and becomes a novel-like thing touching on themes such as child abduction, slavery, abuse, the fleetingness of love, jealousy, salvation through art, selflessness, and gratitude. The movie is interspersed with escapes, first with the solo violinist escaping the angry band, then, the violinist escaping with the waif from the gypsies, and at the end, a double escape. This recurring theme, not only gives the movie an entertainingly breathless pace, but also serves to express the brisk, rambling pace of the violinist's life.

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