Friday, 28 December 2012

An enchanted Charlie Christmas and a Happy Hollywood New Year


I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed the festivities of the holidays. I most certainly did, surrounded by my family and friends. Good food, good drink and at times (when I was allowed the remote control) good TV too. Christmas pudding steaming on the hob and Casablanca in the background, it was my kind of afternoon. That is till my brother, the chef of the family, insisted on watching a mad-cap cook. He likes as he cooks giant edible monstrosities out of wacky ingredients and then expects you to do the same...



Thank goodness for my godson. Now anyone who follows the various pages of Charlie's London will know that I speak about Jayden a lot. He is nearly four and the son of my cousin, who in truth is more like my sister. He is my latest Chaplin convert and loves to watch his films with me. He calls him "that naughty Charlie Chaplin" and for Christmas we bought him the Chaplin and Co. DVD which he watched absolutely transfixed. For anyone who does not know this DVD I highly recommend it if you have children, or young adults you want to get into Charlie but may feel silent films at a first glance are too heavy going. It's a French animation produced by the Association Chaplin and Bubbles Inc. in conjunction with Roy Export SAS. It's similar to the Pixar style of animation and for me captures the mannerisms and essence of the little tramp quite well. Jayden watches them so intently and is so familiar with Chaplin films in general that now he can even watch them and make the connection between the children's adaptation and the original shorts they are meant to represent.


Watching him watch any Chaplin brought me to a subject that I know many Chaplin blogger, Tweeter, Facebooker and Tumblrer (is that a word...) has thought long and hard about over the festive period.

Jayden and his DVD
Of course, if you are a Chaplin fan, Christmas is often a strange time of year. Christmas Day, 1977 saw the end of an era with the passing of not only a comedy genius but arguably one of the fathers of contemporary cinema. Writing as much as I do about Charlie made me realise that somehow, on the day when everyone would be relaxing and celebrating, I would have to mark it with something of a sombre nature. So how was I to do it?

Talking one afternoon to one of my close blogging / Facebook friends, Anne  threw up an interesting situation and for me. I am one of the youngest bloggers on the subject that I know.  In a time when so many other great internet contributors have written very touching posts because they remember Charlie's passing, I cannot. I was born 5 years after he died and don't have those memories to draw from. I also try to keep my blog focused on London as much as I can - and of course, he didn't die here.

It was then suggested to me that I should write a post on the Christmas' he had in London such as his sad moment in Hanwell, or waking hungry on Christmas morning because there was not even an ounce of food in the house. For those that don't know, as the story goes Charlie stood in line with the other boys at the Hanwell Workhouse for his present of an orange. Oranges were a rare treat and he was excited to have one. However as he stood there, excited and happy he was told by the warden that because he had soiled himself the night before he wasn't allowed one - a memory that haunted him for the rest of his days.

Charlie in The Gold Rush 1925
I toyed with the idea but then I realised that this probably would not read very well, especially when this time of the year is meant to be a happy one. I reflected again on the fact that I was not alive when he was, as much as this has always saddened me it finally flashed the lightbulb above my head which led me to this post.

Charlie for me has never been dead or alive, he has always been a beautiful enigma wrapped up in a world of make believe and pure resilient genius. I did not have to mourn his passing because for me he never had one. I watch Jayden and his love of Charlie's films and I think of my own childhood, sat in very much the same position with my grandmother watching them in the same way. Laughing at the same parts, crying at others. Charlie has always been in my life and will continue to be whether he physically lives or doesn't.

Hindsight in life is such a great gift. I can appreciate the things he was trying to convey to the world without having to read the scandal and the rubbish that many people reported about him to sell newspapers. His art will continue to speak forever and while we hear the infectious laugh of the children who enjoy him now as much as people did in 1915, I think as Chaplin fans we can all sleep easy, knowing that future generations will make sure he lives forever!

Charlie's films are screened all around the world still, nearly
a century after some of them were made. 

13 comments:

  1. Great post. You know I was contemplating the same thing in my journal several days ago, about how Charlie may be gone physically but then again he really isn't gone. He never really left us and depending upon who you talk to they will also, more than likely agree that he is here in some shape or form. Having just turned twenty-six a little while ago I also never lived in the same time as him and that is also a strange thing to think about.

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    1. Sorry it has taken so long to reply to your post. I completely agree and it feels so warming to see someone who feels the same. I envy all these people who have such fond first hand memories of Charlie. I have the same feelings as I have just turned 30 myself so I feel you. Thank you for the comment and thank you for supporting Charlie's London :)

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  2. I know he is alive for me, and he will always be alive for those of us - and future generations - who continue to love and enjoy his wonderful work! Beautiful post, Ayse. :)

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