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Chaplin Quotations


Beauty is the object or the consciousness which amplifies the feeling of universality in man.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




“As I see it, the purpose of story telling is to express the beauty of life, condensing its high spots, for purposes of entertainment. For after all, it is only beauty we seek in life, whether it be through laughter or tears. And beauty lies in everything, both good and evil, though only the discriminating, such as the artist and the poet, finds it in both.

Quoted in “Chaplin Makes Plea For Sincerity,” Exhibitor’s Trade Review, October 1923




You can do anything if you don't have a vulgar mind.

Chaplin told Martha Raye during the shooting of Monsieur Verdoux, “You can do anything if you don’t have a vulgar mind. Have a little pixyishness. Let them have fun, it won’t be vulgar. Some can swear, others can’t. It’s like another gift, a talent. It’s there or it isn’t. You have to be what you are naturally.” (Quoted in Charles Chaplin Jr.’s “My Father, Charlie Chaplin”




Doing something with the public in mind is doing something without your own mind.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




How awful the thought of oneness—the yoga idea. One merging into all and all merging into one. Just think of merging into Herbert Hoover.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Education is the path to revelation. Teach the alphabet and you sow the seeds of rebellion. The free thinker travels light along the road to truth.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly!

The ending of The Great Dictator: “Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah! The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future. The glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us! Look up Hannah, look up!”




Most all our worldly troubles are only drifting bubbles. Most all our cares and sorrows are gone with our tomorrows.

From “Sing a Song”. Music and Lyrics by Charles Chaplin, Abe Lyman and Gus Arnheim: “Most all our worldly troubles are only drifting bubbles. Most all our cares and sorrows are gone with our tomorrows. So don’t you let them fret you or some day they will get you. When skies are grey, stop work and play, and laugh your cares away…”




I don't want to create a revolution - I just want to create a few more films.

In response to journalists for comments on United States Attorney-General’s announcement to revoke his re-entry visa, September 23, 1952. Quoted in The Guardian: “I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have. On the other hand I am not a super-patriot. Super -patriotism leads to Hitlerism - and we’ve had our lesson there. I don’t want to create a revolution - I just want to create a few more films.”




Action is more generally understood than words.

From “Pantomime and Comedy” by Charlie Chaplin, The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1931: “Action is more generally understood than words. The lift of an eyebrow, however faint, may convey more than a hundred words. Like the Chinese symbolism, it will mean different things, according to its scenic connotation… Pantomime, I have always believed, and still believe, is the prime qualification of a successful screen player. A truly capable actor must possess a thorough grounding in pantomime.”




Deep down we all have a sense of our own inadequacy about coping with life. It is something that all of us hide from the world yet it feeds the soul and endows our personality with charm.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




If only the old and young could be the same age.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes in the archives




Mother illuminated to me the kindliest light this world has ever known, which has endowed literature and the theatre with their greatest and richest themes: love, pity and humanity.

From “My Autobiography”, Charlie Chaplin remembering his mother, Hannah Chaplin: “I remember an evening in our one room in the basement at Oakley Street. I lay in bed recovering from a fever. Sydney had gone out to night school and Mother and I were alone. It was late afternoon, and she sat with her back to the window reading, acting and explaining in her inimitable way the New Testament and Christ’s love and pity for the poor and for little children. Perhaps her emotion was due to my illness, but she gave the most luminous and appealing interpretation of Christ that I have ever heard or seen. […] Mother had so carried me away that I wanted to die that very night and meet Jesus. But Mother was not so enthusiastic. ‘Jesus wants you to live first and fulfil your destiny here,’ she said. In that dark room in the basement at Oakley Street, Mother illuminated to me the kindliest light this world has ever known, which has endowed literature and the theatre with their greatest and richest themes: love, pity and humanity.”




I am successful because I work hard and pay attention to detail. I think of my work constantly. I can’t even read a book or have a conversation without trying to find a good comic effect in the most serious part of it.

From “Charlie Chaplin tells Chronicle Correspondent He Never Wanted to be a Famous Funnyman” by Elizabeth Peltret, Paterson Chronicle, February 4, 1917




The desire for peace is universal. [...] Let us try to understand each other’s problems, for in modern warfare there is no victory.

Chaplin accepted an award from the World Peace Council on May 27, 1954, and told the assembled press: “The desire for peace is universal. I do not assume to know the answers to the problems which threaten peace, but this I do know: that nations will never solve them in an atmosphere of hate or suspicion; nor will the threat of dropping hydrogen bombs solve them. The melancholy grooming of people to the acceptance of hydrogen warfare, with all its attendant horrors, is a crime against the human spirit and has created world infirmity. Let us therefore absolve ourselves of the miserable, cancerous atmosphere. Let us try to understand each other’s problems, for in modern warfare there is no victory.”




America has changed [...] The gigantic scale of industrial institutions, of press, television, and commercial advertising has completely divorced me from the American way of life. I want the other side of the coin, a simpler personal sense of living.

After he had left America, Chaplin wrote in his autobiography: “Friends have asked me if I miss the United States - New York? In candour I do not. America has changed, so has New York. The gigantic scale of industrial institutions, of press, television and commercial advertising has completely divorced me from the American way of life. I want the other side of the coin, a simpler personal sense of living - not the ostentatious avenues and towering buildings which are an ever-reminder of big business and its ponderous achievements.”




Pantomime has always been the universal means of communication. It existed as the universal tool long before language was born. Pantomime serves well where languages are in the conflict of a common ignorance.

From “Pantomime and Comedy” by Charlie Chaplin, The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1931, published in connection with the release of City Lights




The silent picture [...] is a universal means of expression. Talking pictures necessarily have a limited field, they are held down to the particular tongues of particular races..(..) There is a constant demand for a medium that is universal in its utility.

From “Pantomime and Comedy” by Charlie Chaplin, The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1931, published in connection with the release of City Lights




If I talked I would become like any other comedian.

Quoted in My Autobiography: “When we arrived home in Beverly Hills, news from the studio was encouraging. Modern Times was a great success. But again I was faced with the depressing question: should I make another silent picture? I knew I’d be taking a great chance if I did. The whole of Hollywood had deserted silent pictures and I was the only one left. I had been lucky so far, but to continue with a feeling that the art of pantomime was gradually becoming obsolete was a discouraging thought. Besides, it was not easy to contrive silent action for an hour and forty minutes, translating wit into action and creating visual jokes every twenty feet of film, for seven or eight thousand feet. Another thought was that, if I did make a talking picture, no matter how good I was I could never surpass the artistry of my pantomime. I had thought of possible voices for the tramp; whether he should speak in monosyllables or just mumble. But it was no use. If I talked I would become like any other comedian. These were the melancholy problems that confronted me.”




I see no tragedy in the loneliness of old age, only the convenience of it. No, I would not mold one atom of the matrix in which life has cast me. I go where the wind blows me.

Extract from an unpublished Preface to My Autobiography (ref. ch00372005): “And as winter descends upon me and our friendships, like the trees, shed their leaves, life takes on another beauty, just as beautiful as the effulgent foliage of summer. And I find myself as I get older more in accord with nature and its wondrous perfection. I would not deny a storm or disturb a weed or alter the inevitableness of the lonely journey we all must take. I see no tragedy in the loneliness of old age, only the convenience of it. No, I would not mold one atom of the matrix in which life has cast me. I go where the wind blows me.”