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The Circus
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: Indiana Sev
The Circus order
Director:
Charles Chaplin

Actors:
Charles Chaplin
Merna Kennedy
Allan Garcia

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Charlie Chaplin plays The Tramp (no, not Courtney Love) again in this classic silent era comedy set in the circus world. This time around, Charles finds himself thrust into the spotlight under the big top where he must deal with a tyrant of a ringmaster and also find himself smitten with that same man’s loveable and mistreated acrobatic stepdaughter. What follows is another brilliant, funny and bittersweet comedy in the Charlie Chaplin repertoire…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The word "genius" is thrown around more often than Paris Hilton nowadays, but when you consider the efforts the great Charlie Chaplin went through for every single one of his films, then it’s no wonder that he’s always one of the first movie stars that comes to mind whenever that word is mentioned. The man directed, wrote, acted in, produced, composed the music and sung the title song for THE CIRCUS (he was also the uncredited editor). Christ, he was probably the lion trainer too! What makes that all the more remarkable is that the result is a really sweet and joyous little movie that showcases one of the most gifted physical comedians to ever grace the silver screen. From being trapped in a lion cage to his heroic escapades walking on a tight rope w/ some rather unwelcome monkeys, Chaplin’s irresistible charm and magic will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face and almost certainly a little pang to your heart.

This isn’t as perfect a film as Chaplin’s THE GOLD RUSH or as funny and message-driven as his MODERN TIMES or THE GREAT DICTATOR, but it is one of his better films and places the Tramp in an ideal setting in which to strut his stuff. I’m always surprised at how sentimental his films tend to get. There was a time or two (okay, 15) in THE CIRCUS where I genuinely felt sorry for the lost, lovesick and hopelessly hopeful character of the Tramp. It never fails; there is always a bit of heart in a Chaplin movie and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you have yet to experience the innocence and nostalgic beauty of a Charlie Chaplin silent-era movie, then start right away and be a witness to the true comic genius of this legendary filmmaker. The closing shot alone will make you glad you watched and I promise you - you’ll just keep on wanting more…
THE EXTRAS
Introduction by David Robinson (6 minutes): A film expert sets up THE CIRCUS beautifully by giving the audience some interesting background information on the film (Chaplin’s legal troubles at the time, the honorary Oscar he received for it at the first ever Academy Awards ceremony, etc.) He also expands on various scenes in the movie and let’s us in on the additions Charles made to the film decades after its release. This is an indispensable addition to these extras that can be enjoyed before or after your viewing of the film.

Chaplin Today: The Circus (26 minutes) : This is a first-rate European produced documentary chronicling the life and times of THE CIRCUS. For those of you not aware of Chaplin’s start in the biz or his methods of filmmaking, you will get a brilliant introduction to the man and his films; in particular, of course, THE CIRCUS. If that weren’t enough, you’ll be witness to some rare archival footage of Chaplin just starting out. Acclaimed director Emir Kusturica shares his insight on the legend of Chaplin as well. I guarantee you’ll enjoy this very loving and insightful documentary.

Deleted Sequence (10 minutes) : An extended sequence that takes place mostly out of the confines of the circus is offered up here for your viewing pleasure. It’s always a treat to be privy to more Chaplin hi-jinx.

October 7-13, 1926 (26 minutes) : This is very cool. I’ve never before seen outtakes from this far back, much less from a silent film. This is another very enjoyable extra for any die-hard Chaplin fans.

Mountbatten Home Movies (7 minutes) : If you still have a need for more behind-the-scenes Chaplin footage, then these home movies should please you greatly. You’ll see Chaplin on the set of THE CIRCUS, visiting his buddy Douglas Fairbanks on the set of THE GAUCHO and a very rare improvised “short” done by Chaplin and some buddies on a beach. If you’re still not satisfied, you've got problems…

The Hollywood Premiere (1928) (7 minutes) : This has some beautiful vintage shots from the film’s premiere in 1928. I love things like this; I get a real warm fuzzy feeling whenever I see how things were in the golden age of cinema. These 7 minutes include the stars arriving, and being interviewed, at the red carpet premiere (no sound, naturally).

Camera A, Camera B (1 minute) : This extra showcases simultaneous shots taken from two cameras that were used during the shooting of the film. The shots are presented side by side, for comparison, on a split screen.

3-D Test Footage by Roland Totheroh (2 minutes) : This is some footage taken by Chaplin’s cameraman in which he experiments to cause a 3-D effect. You know what? For 1928, the dude does a pretty goddamn good job!

Circus Day with Jackie Coogan – Excerpts (12 minutes) : Several minutes of excerpts featuring Jackie Coogan, the actor who played the title role in Chaplin’s movie THE KID. The excerpts are from an adaptation of a famed children’s book that chronicles the adventures of a boy in a traveling circus. A very appropriate and harmless extra considering it is circus-themed, a silent film and stars one of Charlie’s past co-stars.

Trailers, Photo Gallery, Film Posters and The Charlie Chaplin Collection : The last four extras will treat you to some Chaplin trailers (international ones too) as well as in-depth photo galleries and film posters.

And if you’re still pondering whether or not to buy the Charlie Chaplin Collection (this is the second boxed set of its kind and includes THE CIRCUS) then watch the highlights from all the films included and try to resist.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I think I’ve been pretty clear, no? Don’t even bother renting this collection...buy it! THE CIRCUS is part of the 2nd Chaplin Collection which also includes CITY LIGHTS, THE KID, MONSIEUR VERDOUX, A WOMAN OF PARIS and A KING IN NEW YORK as well as 2 other discs full of short films and zillions of extras. Wonderful movies and incredible extras on 12 discs....and worth every penny, believe me.

I guarantee your love and appreciation for classic cinema will be heightened after experiencing all over again, or even for the first time, the indescribable feeling one gets from being in the wonderful world of a Charles Chaplin movie.
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