Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times.
For the first time I see his face in real closeup, every feature capable of expressing an endless variety of emotions. Fluidly we see compassion and confusion; fear and indignity, happiness and melancholy drift across his face like patches of sunlight over a busy city square; buzzing with people, street vendors, mopeds and crusty pigeons. His famous mustache dances daintily and his eyebrows lead a life of their own. He has so much to say in his silent movie way.
My grandfather (1908) must have been about six years old. His father was working for the Dutch government and as a festive gesture, the British ambassador in The Hague had invited its relations and their families to a special Christmas celebration at the embassy. At this event my grandfather – Conny – and his brothers were treated to a selection of Charlie Chaplin films. For them it was their very first introduction to actual moving images, a whole new way of storytelling. Sitting in the dark, trembling with cinematic anticipation; a mechanical click, the soft purr of the projector and as the lights appear on the screen the slapstick action slowly comes into focus, that famous silhouette: bow-legged, bowler hat, bendy cane and floppy shoes. It must have been heaven for those boys…
Just cause he’s so great: