Born in 1889, Charlie Chaplin was an actor, filmmaker and composer who had the talent of rejuvenating audience with his natural presence and comic timing. He was one of the biggest stars of the 20th century, the era of silent films. He worked in the industry for more than 75 years and his career had its share of success and controversies. He breathed his last on 25 December 1977 bringing end to his remarkable journey in the industry.
He didn’t have a very happy childhood, it was full of poverty and hardships. Due to the financial crisis that his family found themselves in, he was sent to work in warehouses at the age of 7. He was later sent to Norwood School. His family continuously suffered as his mother was admitted to a mental asylum and his father died two years later. He had to spend most of his childhood years searching for food on streets but no hardships could stop him from becoming the greatest performer of the 20th century.
The first time he performed on stage was to replace his mother on stage who lost her voice in the middle of the act. Charlie was pushed in to perform and he lit up the audience. Chaplin made his acting debut with a play where he played Sherlock Holmes. He further made his film debut with Make a Living in 1914. But the movie that brought him to the limelight and made him a worldwide icon was ‘The Tramp’. Over the next year he appeared in 35 movies, after which there was no turning back.
Charlie Chaplin was ridiculed when he didn’t volunteer for fighting in the first World War and chose to continue making films. He was continuously attacked by various media outlets for not joining war. To the contrary, he made many satires at that time, which were regularly shown to the injured soldiers who would forget their physical and mental trauma after they started watching him. He soon used his stardom and money to make anti-war comedies and satires. Besides war, he also spoke about militarism and nationalism. He continued to suffer from attacks and allegations during and after the Second World War.
His works sympathised with the working class as he himself struggled to make a living in his early years. Daily-wage workers who have been left jobless after the Covid-19 lockdown, need help from people around them to help them make it through these tough times. Amid the virus that has left our future uncertain, there is a need of taking inspiration from Charlie Chaplin’s works to fight this outbreak together.