Photo Essays
1. Exile’s Return
2. Chaplin’s Parents
3. Hannah Chaplin’s Femmes Fatales
4. Playing Dress-Up  In The Land of Make Believe
5. Teenage Girls and Fear of Aging
6. Chaplin’s Three Teenage Wives
7. Mildred Harris
8. Lita Grey
9. Oona O’Neill
10. Chaplin’s Father
11. A Royal Lion
12. Vesta Tilley as Bertie
13. Ella Shields as Bertie
14. Making A Living
15. The Lion Comique’s Son: Dressed Like A Bum
16. Monsieur Verdoux as a Lion Comique
17. Calvero as a Lion Comique
18. The Lion Comique’s Son in the Limelight
19. Charlie as a Child
20. The Kid’s Lucky Break
21. Syd Chaplin
22. A Family Album of Theatrical Drunks
23. Chaplin’s Family Romance
24. Edna Purviance
25. Purviance’s Influence on Chaplin’s Character
26. Essanay
27. Chaplinitis
28. Chaplin’s Predecessors
29. Eye Contact: Audience-Performer Intimacy
30. Chaplin the Auteur
31. Chaplin’s Two Autobiographies
32. Going It Alone
33. The Circus
34. Autobiographical Starvation Scenes From The Gold Rush
35. Autobiographical Madness Scenes in Modern Times
36. Two British Music Hall Traditions and Topical Comedy
37. The Great Dictator
38. Fatal Attraction: Joan Barry
39. Monsieur Verdoux: Guillotine or Hatchet Job?
40. Limelight
Chaplin: A Life In Film
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 The Circus

©Roy Export

From his first days at  Keystone with  Sennett,  Chaplin fought to gain complete  control of his art. He probably is the  only filmmaker whose body of work permits valid psychoanalytic study. Usually, filmmaking is a collective process. Psychoanalysis explores  individual psychology. How can we   legitimately apply the methods of  individual depth psychology  to an art form created by groups of people?

Whose   psyche   does a film   express? The actor’s, the  screenwriter’s, the director’s, the editor’s, the producer’s? Not only do  each  of these highly  trained professionals participate in a technical capacity; but more often than not—through the creative process—each weaves his    emotions and intellect  into the film he helps  to create. As a result of this collective fusion, film critics   are at a loss  to specify or  quantify each  individual artist’s contribution  if  they attempt to study a film’s unconscious creative origins. For that reason, most movies defy systematic  in-depth psycho-analysis.

But in the case of  Charlie Chaplin, his entire body of  work can be approached legitimately from an in-depth psychoanalytic point of view because there is no attribution problem. The  films were exclusively his own  expression. As his son, Charlie Chaplin Jr. once put it, marveling over the fact that his father wrote, produced, directed, acted, personally edited and even composed the music for his films—he had no doubt his father would have preferred to sew the costumes if he’d  had the time. Chaplin was a workaholic perfectionist. His  absolute  control over every aspect of his filmmaking process is a Hollywood legend.

The only living actor-director-screenwriter whose oeuvre might  some day be  legitimately  studied by this type of psychoanalytic approach is Woody Allen. But unlike Chaplin, Allen  has not yet written   an   autobiography or  otherwise made relevant personal  data  about his early childhood available—except presumably to his own analyst. In order to circumvent this problem of attribution  in order to  analyze the   creative origins of  a film as if it were the expression of one person’s psyche, academic film critics came up with the auteur theory.  That theory    makes the  theoretical assumption--for rhetorical purposes--that films can be legitimately discussed as the creative expression of the director’s personal psychology.  What co-contributors like Marlon Brando,  Tennessee Williams and   Bud Schulberg  might have felt about  Elia Kazan’s  being  credited  as the auteur of  films  like   Streetcar Named Desire or  On The Waterfront is not known—and is certainly questionable.
© 2008 All Essay Rights Reserved.

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