Friday, August 15, 2014

The Directors Project: #11 - Charles Chaplin

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1914-1967

Films as Director: 16

Oscar Wins: 2

- Best Original Score (Limelight)
- Honorary Award

Who: More than any other cinematic artist, including Hitchcock, Chaplin is an icon whose facial design can be internationally recognized. While it could benefit from him working in film towards the start, he was simply a smart business man who managed to create an accessible look that complimented his limber theatrics and allowed for his physical comedy to translate to the silent comedies, and later talkies. He was more than just a buffoonish slapstick performer. As his career progressed, he mixed his humor with twinges of political and social commentary that had profound impacts on their environments and remain indelible pieces of art. He didn't so much notice the introduction of talkies. He embraced them and used them as a tool to parallel his sentimental feel and poignant storytelling that reflects a perfectionist who had a lot to say without saying a whole lot. He was fantastic and could connect with the universal language of physical comedy without dumbing it down.

Scene from Modern Times
-- Modern Times (1936) --

Flickchart Ranking: #17 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 8/10 (80 points)
Perks: None
Total: 980 points

-- The Great Dictator (1940) --

Flickchart Ranking: #50 (850 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 910 points

-- The Gold Rush (1925) --

Flickchart Ranking: #85 (850 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 920 points

-- City Lights (1931) --

Flickchart Ranking: #213 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 770 points

-- The Kid (1921) --

Flickchart Ranking: #397 (600 points)
IMDb Rating: 8/10 (80 points)
Perks: None
Total: 680 points

-- Shoulder Arms (1918) --

Flickchart Ranking: #541 (450 points)
IMDB Rating: 6/10 (60 poinra)
Perks: None
Total: 510 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 4720 points

Scene from The Kid
Depending on my mood, I am either into Chaplin or Buster Keaton when it comes to iconic silent films. The only reason that Keaton didn't rank so high was because he didn't direct some of his most iconic work (Steamboat Bill Jr., The General) that left a strong impression on me. However, to give any fault to Chaplin is to deny his brilliance. He is pure cinema at its core. He is a visual maestro, providing something provoking while telling a narrative and often perfecting the sentimental ending. He is a wonderful storyteller simply because of this. It also helps that he started in silent film, because his style can be seen as it matures and transfers into talkies, which didn't handicap him like most. He was an artist who could adapt, and continued to make important films along the way. To think that the amazing The Kid is 19 years before The Great Dictator is astounding. He was always making something of value, and that is something to envy. There will never be another Chaplin, for better or worse. He embodied something genuine and with his physicality changed the medium into something beyond actors on screen. They could distort their body and make funny faces without seeming insincere. Chaplin is simply amazing.

UP NEXT: We crack the top 10 with a master of surreal adaptations.

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