Charlie Chaplin, The Genius of Liberty, the excellent new documentary by Yves Jeuland & François Aymé, which premiered at Cannes Classics 2020/Festival Lumière in Lyon, will be broadcast on Wednesday, January 6th at 9:05 pm on French television station France 3. The documentary will be followed by Modern Times at 11:30 pm.
The Italian edition of a new book by David Robinson on Charlie Chaplin’s unfinished film THE FREAK, published by Cineteca di Bologna, is available in Italian bookstores and on the Cineteca’s online shop. Other language versions are hoped for in 2021.
This book is not just the first-ever publication of an unknown Chaplin film script, but the comprehensive presentation of an unfinished film – one of Charles Chaplin’s most remarkable works, and his last.
Chaplin had the idea for THE FREAK in 1968-9 when he was close to 80, and was inspired to produce the script in a much shorter time and with more confidence than any preceding screenplay. Once the script was complete, Chaplin and his producer Jerry Epstein saw the urgency, given Chaplin’s age, of getting the film into active production as soon as possible. Hence, even while still seeking funding, Chaplin at his own cost engaged designers to present his visual concepts and to produce storyboards, and explored the elaborate (pre-CGI) special effects techniques the story demanded. In particular, Chaplin, Epstein and the studio special-effects department spent much time and money in producing the prototype of the big articulated wings which were to be attached to the leading actress – Chaplin’s daughter, Victoria – throughout the film. (The wings are now on display at Chaplin’s World in Switzerland.)
The recent acquisition of some Jerry Epstein papers by the Chaplin office revealed surprising information about THE FREAK: the project was actually one step away from being made, as evidenced by pre-production files, casting, location scouting and extensive correspondence between Epstein and several studios.
Although the film was never finished, Chaplin left us a rich testimony – almost 3,000 pages worth –of words, photographs and designs, together with sound recordings of his own reading of the script, and of his own experiments on the piano, when composing the musical track.
It is from these that this book is able to evoke the real essence of Charles Chaplin’s THE FREAK.
THE FREAK is Cineteca di Bologna Publishing’s second journey through unmade Chaplin films. In 2014, they published “Footlights: The World of Limelight”, which included the previously unpublished novella Footlights (the “book-of-the-film” that preceded Limelight) by Chaplin with a commentary by David Robinson. This new book publishes, for the first time, Chaplin’s complete script as well as a rich selection of previously unseen materials. The texts are assembled and edited with an accompanying commentary by David Robinson in association with Cineteca di Bologna, and in close collaboration with Victoria Chaplin, Gerald Larn, principal art director during preparation of the film, Kate Guyonvarch and the Chaplin Office in Paris, and Cecilia Cenciarelli, whose years with the Chaplin Archive have given her an unrivalled and indispensable grasp of his work.
October 15th 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the premiere of The Great Dictator. Join Chaplin’s World’s worldwide #LETUSALLUNITE campaign, a tribute to the film which entails dressing up as the Tramp and forming a letter from the alphabet that will be used to recreate the iconic final speech in photo form.
On the 80th anniversary year of the release of The Great Dictator we are privileged to present the new exhibition, Story of a small fish in a shark infested ocean - Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator 80 years on, co-produced by Les Rencontres d’Arles, Roy Export S.A.S, L’Institut pour la Photographie, Lille and Chaplin’s World, and curated by Kate Guyonvarch, Sam Stourdzé, Mathilde Thibault-Starzyk.
A selection of hitherto unseen photographs taken on set by Dan James, including the candid shot above of Chaplin and Reginald Gardiner, are a major part of this exhibition. Assistant Director on the film, James was a vital part of the production, working with Chaplin throughout 1938-1940, taking notes to dictation of storylines, ideas and dialogue and even directing some scenes.
The exhibition is being presented for the first time at the Institut pour la Photographie in Lille, from September 10th to November 15th 2020, and it will be at Chaplin’s World in Switzerland next year. Les Rencontres d’Arles 2020 were sadly unable to present the exhibition as planned this summer due to COVID-19.
Continuing our collaboration with [PIAS], it is our great pleasure to announce the release on 26th June of a remastered, deluxe limited-edition vinyl of the soundtrack to The Great Dictator to celebrate the film’s 80th anniversary. The record includes many hitherto unpublished recordings, and is accompanied by a 24-page large-format booklet with rare texts and photos. This special edition will delight Chaplin lovers as much as collectors of high quality vinyl records. Pre-order today on PIAS’s online shop!