The Essential Chaplin Collection

Posted on February 23, 2011


A Film Johnnie, and Kid Auto Races at Venice, both from The Essential Chaplin Collection, were two early films that showed the world’s developing fascination with the silver screen. In the early part of the 20th century, film was a brand new institution, and in many cases the films made had little or no plot. People were just fascinated with the idea of movies, and at first they didn’t really need a linear story to keep people interested. These two films from 1914 have a little substance, but in many cases were made to show off what can be done with the new technology of movie cameras. Both films star Chaplin in early manifestations of his Tramp character. Kid Auto Races at Venice features Chaplin as a man pulling pranks in front of a camera that’s trying to film the races. He repeatedly gets pushed around, but always comes back. A Film Johnnie, on the other hand, has a more developed plot, and is an excellent early example of the traditional Hollywood narrative. Both had somewhat linear narratives and relied a lot of Chaplin’s unique form of physical humor. Chaplin would later develop his Tramp character into a much-loved icon of the silent film era.

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