*In Rojava, an autonomous Kurdish enclave in Northern Syria, an old-fashioned cinema with red velvet seats and golden drapes is filled with children that have never seen a movie before. It turns out to be a silent film: Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been for those kids to see this film on the big screen. Not just because they live in a dangerous world, but because Chaplin’s magic is as fresh as it was 85 years ago.
This reminded me of a anecdote my grandfather once told me:
My grandfather (1908-2007) 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 his 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 moving light appear on the screen the slapstick action slowly comes into focus, that famous silhouette: bowler hat, bow-legged, bendy cane and floppy shoes.
It must have been heaven for those kids…
* Inspired by an article by Rob Vreeken, Chaplin in tijden van IS, in De Volkskrant, 10/12/15