On Saturday, November 15, three of our 7-8 grade Cinemania students joined over 200 other film-lovers of all ages for a screening of Charlie Chaplin shorts with live music accompaniment by Not So Silent Cinema. Each Cinemania student reviewed what they saw for a new blog segment called Cinemania Student Critics. Read what they had to say about Charlie Chaplin shorts and the joys of seeing a film with live music accompaniment, and stay tuned for more from the Student Critics!
Charlie Chaplin Shorts by Caleb Feinstein, student at Anne M. Dorner Middle School in Ossining, NY
As you watch these early films, sometimes you just can’t help but laugh out loud at the comedic adventures of Charlie Chaplin. The Pawnshop, The Adventurer, and The Cure all depict the hilarious events that surround Chaplin and are paired with a varied range of music. From fights to thieves to a crazy spa, Chaplin and Edna Purviance do a great job of getting into elaborate situations. In my favorite short, The Adventurer, Charlie Chaplin plays a runaway convict. After saving a woman’s mother from drowning, Chaplin is brought back to their elegant home and invited to a party. Things take a turn for the worse when Chaplin realizes that the police chief is also invited. After a few minutes of watching these films, I had completely forgotten that the music wasn’t originally part of the film. The live accompaniment included instruments that ranged from flute to ukulele and seemed to be meant for the silent film, heightening the expressions of the actors. If someone was sad, happy, or running from guards, the music “showed” it, often with allusions to famous songs or melodies. These films may have been almost 100 years old, but the experience of watching them felt just as fresh and enjoyable as any modern film experience.
Chaplin Still Funny After All These Years by Jake Mikesell, student at Seven Bridges Middle School in Chappaqua, NY
Charlie Chaplin Shorts with live music accompaniment was a surprisingly funny and enjoyable experience. It stars the comedian Charlie Chaplin who played in silent black and white short films in the early 1900s. The music completely fit right in with the film atmosphere and character actions. The three short films were called, The PawnShop, The Adventurer, and The Cure. In all of the shorts, Chaplin always got into trouble, but in the end, he is the hero. In, The PawnShop, he drives his coworkers crazy with his slapstick battles. In the second film, The Adventurer, Chaplin is an escaped convict who outsmarts the guards and ends up wooing the young lady he saves from drowning. In the third film, The Cure, Charlie Chaplin is a drunk who checks into a health spa. But he brings along a big suitcase full of alcohol. Again, he flirts with a beautiful woman who tries to get him to stop drinking. Chaplin was a master at the art of silent comedy and was a really talented musician-he even composed his own music for all his films! Charlie Chaplin’s films are still great laugh-out-loud slapstick adventures that appeal to everyone: young and old alike. I didn’t know what to expect going into the theater. I think Chaplin must have inspired modern-day cartoons. I liked how his films were silent but deadly funny-timeless comedy with live action music. A fun day at the movies whether it’s 1920 or 2014.
Presented with the accompaniment of live music presence by Not So Silent Cinema, the Charlie Chaplin Shorts presentation at the Jacob Burns Film Center was truly excellent. Other than the phenomenal music, the presentation hand-picked the best of Charlie Chaplin to show the audience Chaplin’s true humor and personality. With the film totally refurbished, the Charlie Chaplin shorts could not have looked more stunning, and I applaud Mutual Chaplin for accomplishing this feat. The three films presented at the JBFC were The Cure 1917, The Adventurer 1917, and The Pawnshop 1916, all films are practically guaranteed to break the audience of many various ages into a roaring laughter, as I imagine the audience that watched the films in the early 1900’s must have done. I can imagine the misconceptions members of the audience must have had before the films regarding silent movies, but I can guarantee the misconception that silent films are boring and not interesting have been cleared, personally, I feel that the Mutual Chaplin fund could not have done a more brilliant job revitalizing this artwork, and that that they have proven to the general audience and the diehard Chaplin fans that this form of artwork is still relevant in today’s film society.