Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Chaplin movies. As I child, I had enjoyed the outrageous comedy in them and had laughed a lot. Now, they made me cry. Back then, I had seen the genius comedian who could make u roll over in laughter with just a twirl of his walking stick. Now, I met the humanitarian who dishes out the biggest of life lessons with as much as just a nod of the head. Chaplin played the role of the TRAMP for a long time in his illustrious career, paying a rich ode to the working class of that time. The zestful twirl of the walking stick and his funny method of tossing up crumpled paper and kicking it to the side project the tramp’s non chalant attitude to the hardships of life.
In the movie ‘CITY LIGHTS’, he saves the heartbroken drunk millionaire from commiting suicide and tells him – “TOMORROW THE BIRDS WILL SING”. That line has left a deep impression on me. His hilarious stint at boxing to earn money to help the blind girl to pay the rent, is deeply touching. He loses the bout and gets knocked out after nearly flooring the opponent, indicating life is not a fairy tale and does not have sweet endings most of the time. In the climax of the movie, the blind girl has her vision restored and is well off in her business due to the money he gives her . He returns from jail as a pauper and is tormented by some boys in front of the girl’s shop. When he recognizes her and she doesn’t and tries to give him a coin, I cried my heart out. I prayed at that moment hoping that chaplin had not made it a tragedy. If so, it would have been one of the best tragic scenes I have ever seen. To my relief, she recognizes him and the story ends well.
Chaplin’s ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time was demonstrated in the movie ‘THE KID’. A heart warming story of the tramp raising an abandoned baby, it reaches its zenith when the child is forcibly taken into orphan care and the tramp runs on the rooftops desperately to catch the wagon and reunites with kid. That scene when they both cry with their faces close to each other has become etched in my memory.
In ‘THE CIRCUS’, when the hungry tramp shares his single piece of bread with a hungrier Edna Purviance, he teaches us the valuable lesson of selflessness and kindness. His zest for life inspite of being physically abused teaches the virtue of non violence and patience.
Chaplin had said that he liked walking in the rain so that no could see him cry. The man who made the entire world laugh , himself seemed to be sad inside. He had his share of personal turmoil with several failed marriages and being accused of being a communist and unpatriotic. His ability to make us roar in laughter despite his sorrow makes him all the more greater. A heartfelt thanks from me for entertaining us and teaching us valuable life lessons at the same time. May his great soul rest in peace.