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The Circus Criterion Blu-ray Review


“The Circus” is a deeply underrated Chaplin film.

In 1928’s “The Circus,” Charlie Chaplin’s beloved broke and hungry Tramp character gets in trouble with the law and winds up at a circus where he becomes a star of the show after a series of amusing mishaps. While working at the circus (and being screwed over by the abusive ringmaster), the Tramp falls for the ringmaster’s daughter (a horse rider named Mernia). Now employed and in love, things appear to be looking up for the Tramp, but does Merna have eyes for someone else?

When it comes to the work of Charlie Chaplin, “City Lights,” “The Gold Rush,” and “Modern Times” always get the highest praise and deservedly so, but “The Circus” is an unsung masterwork. Written and directed by Chaplin himself, “The Circus” may tell a simple story, but the beauty is in its simplicity. At its core, this is a bittersweet but moving tale about humanity, kindness, love, heartbreak, standing up to people doing wrong, and humor. In short, it’s a movie about the journey of life, but more than that, it’s really a perfect summation of the Tramp character. The ending with the Tramp doing the right thing and ending up back at square one and presumably venturing off to another adventure yet again really encapsulates the character as a whole.

Given that this is a silent film comedy, I’d be remiss not to mention the actual comedy. “The Circus” is loaded with so many memorable comedic moments be it the Tramp character acting like an animatronic or the character bravely doing a tight-rope walk while monkeys bite his nose. There are so many clever and inventive set pieces scattered about that really showcase Chaplin’s talent as an artist and an entertainer.


Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration looks as sharp as can be.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? Both the Chaplin score and song sound crisp with this Mono track.

* A booklet featuring credits and an essay by author and film critic Pamela Hutchinson.
* 2 trailers for “The Circus” re-release
* 1998 audio interview excerpts with Eric James (Chaplin’s music collaborator).
* Audio excerpts from Ken Barrie’s recording of the song “Swing Little Girl”
* Footage from the 1928 Hollywood premiere of “The Circus.”
* 5 minutes of footage of Chaplin being interviewed in Switzerland in 1969.
* A newly recorded 15 minute interview with Charlie Chaplin’s son Eugene Chaplin
* “In The Service Of The Story”- An interview with film scholar Craig Barron.
* “Chaplin Today: The Circus”- A 26 minute making of documentary about the making of “The Circus.”

* “Stepping Out”- A deleted cafe sequence and nearly a half-hour of narrated outtakes.

* “A Ring For Merna”- Outtakes of a ring scene along with alternate takes of another.
* An informative and fact filled new commentary track by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance.

October 2, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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