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Limelight

Limelight

By Patrick Samuel • March 27th, 2011
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
LIMELIGHT (Blu-ray)
Park Circus 

Release date: March 28th 2011
Certificate (UK): U
Running time: 134 minutes
Year of production: 1952

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom, Sydney Chaplin, Andre Eglevsky, Melissa Hayden, Charles Chaplin Jnr, Wheeler Dryden, Nigel Bruce, Buster Keaton, Marjorie Bennett, Norman Lloyd, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Chaplin, Josephine Chaplin

“The glamour of limelight, from which age must pass as youth enters. A story of a ballerina and a clown…London; a late afternoon in the summer of 1914…”

So begins Charlie Chaplin’s beautiful and epic story, Limelight.

It’s the year 1914 and Calvero (Charlie Chaplin), a once famous stage clown is now a washed-up has-been who finds happiness at the bottom of a bottle.

Limelight

When Calvero comes home early one morning, he smells gas and breaks his neighbour’s door down, rescuing her from a suicide attempt. The young woman, Thereza (Claire Bloom), is a ballet dancer who’s lost all will to live, but Calvero takes it upon himself to nurse her back to health.

In doing so, he inspires himself as well and stops drinking to become a better performer, but fate has other plans for the unlikely pair. As Thereza gets back on her feet and eventually rises to stardom, Calvero will find it’s time for him to take a bow.

Limelight

After working for two years on the screenplay, Chaplin then worked another nine months on the music. Although set in London, the film was shot in six months in Hollywood, at Chaplin Studios and Paramount Studios and then spent a further year in post production.

The film is also something of a family affair, with his children Sydney, Charles Jr., Josephine, Geraldine and Michael; and his half-brother, Wheeler Dryden. And it’s the first time Chaplin and that other silent screen icon, Buster Keaton, appear on screen together!

Limelight

Limelight is an eerily autobiographical film, even if you don’t know too much about Chaplin you can still recognise this. The references to his most famous role, and one of cinema’s most recognisable and often imitated characters, The Little Tramp, are present almost throughout.

Debuting in 1914 in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice, it was a role he would keep coming back to and in Limelight, his Tramp Comedian show is Calvero’s final attempt to win back his audience.

Limelight

While it shares similarities with Sunset Boulevard (1950) in that both lead characters try to recapture times past, and also The Red Shoes (1948) in how an artist strives for perfection, Limelight is haunting, poetic, bittersweet and comical in ways that those films aren’t, but more than that, it’s a deeply moving film which reflects on the passage of time while celebrating the arts and life.

For its semi-autobiographical nature, its offers an insight into one of cinema’s most enduring creative forces; Charlie Chaplin.

Limelight

If you’re wondering what “limelight” refers to exactly; limelight, or calcium light as it’s sometimes known, was a type of stage lighting that was used in theatres and music halls. It was invented by Goldsworthy Gurney in the 1820’s and first used in public in the Covent Garden Theatre in London in 1837.

It has now been replaced by electric lighting, but back in the day, an oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylinder of quicklime (calcium oxide) to create an intense illumination. Those performing on a stage lit with this would be referred to as being “in the limelight.”

SPECIAL FEATURES: 

  • Introduction by David Robinson
  • Chaplin Today: Limelight (27 mins)
  • Deleted scenes
  • Footlights – excerpts from the original novel, read by Chaplin

The Blu-ray presents a clean and crisp picture, although not totally free from the odd dust grain or scratches. As for special features; Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003) is an interesting look at how the film was made.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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