The Real Charlie Chaplin
The filmmaking duo behind Notes on Blindness turn their focus on the phenomenally successful career and controversy-strewn life of the first global film star.
Who was Charlie Chaplin? It’s a question that lies at the heart of Pete Middleton and James Spinney’s fascinating film. Featuring a little-seen 1966 in-depth interview with the multi-hyphenate Hollywood star, the film charts his early life in London, a desire to break away from the abject poverty he grew up in – which would haunt him throughout his life – and his rapid ascent through the filmmaking world. It focuses on his successes, first as the breakout star of shorts and then his taking over directing, scoring, producing and editorial duties on his features, as well as appearing in front of the camera. It highlights how demanding an artist he was – a perfectionist in every way. And the film delves into a complex and controversial personal life, from the age of his first three wives through to his brushes with the FBI over his political views, which eventually lost him his US citizenship.
The film highlights the contrast between Chaplin’s on and off-screen persona, yet also acknowledges that they were inextricably linked. Combining interviews with those who knew him personally or worked with him, alongside a wealth of footage on and off set, and featuring inventively re-staged sequences, The Real Charlie Chaplin is both for those who have long been fascinated by this mercurial figure but also those who only know him as the little tramp.