Saturday, April 16, 2011

Google and Charlie Chaplin.

Google, in honor of Charlie Chaplin's 122nd birthday, has incorporated an ersatz and inferior Chaplin look-alike in its logo and along the way produced some short and horrid Chaplin movies and placed them on its homepage. They have Chaplin interacting with their logo.

I suppose on the one hand this homage to Chaplin is a good thing. Entire generations of people who have never seen Chaplin can now see an imitator and at least think about Chaplin. On the other hand, creating an implied endorsement from Chaplin and using that to advance their brand is odious and disgusting.

I grew up watching Chaplin movies and I've never stopped watching them. I have scores of his shorts and his feature films in my dvd collection. I have pre-ordered, as you should, the Criterion Collections re-releases of both "Modern Times" and "The Great Dictator." His brilliance, even when he is maudlin, always shines through. The way he counts money in "Monsieur Verdoux" is beyond genius.

When I was 21, this is the late 70s, before VCRs put them out of business, there were dozens of movie theatres that lined upper Broadway. Most of them were shuttered in the early 80s and now they're drugstores, co-ops or supermarkets. One such theatre was The New Yorker on 83rd and Broadway. They would play Chaplin shorts basically around the clock. It cost $5 to get in and you could stay all day, which I did, if you liked. You could leave and come back. It was all-you-can-eat Chaplin.

I'm lucky to live in New York. Every so often there's a museum or an "art" movie theatre that plays Chaplin on a big screen as he was intended to be seen. Watching Chaplin that way, and with an audience laughing and gasping along with you is incomparable. On rare occasions, these art houses also hire musicians to play live accompaniment to Chaplin movies. There's one word to describe that experience: wow.

Chaplin was one of what some call "the Big Three" silent comedians, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton (my favorite) being the others.

The same way you should see every Caravaggio you can get your eyes on, you owe it to yourself to see all the Chaplin, all the Lloyd and all the Keaton you can, in whatever form you can see it.

1 comment:

Tore Claesson said...

Chaplin is timeless actually. what he "criticized" are topics as valid today as ever.