Charlie Chaplin in Kid Auto Races at Venice Beach.
‘The one who comes walking in is Chaplin, who brushes against the world like a slow meteor …the imaginary landscape that he brings along is the meteors aura…while he strolls on with the cane and hat that so become him’
Charlie Chaplin is one of the most effervescent character-actors ever to grace the silver screens in the history offilmmaking. Chaplin was a London born actor/director/songwriter/artist who had the pure magic of creating scenes that would direct his audiences to feel welcome, a sense of belonging. His audiences both laughed at him, as well as with him. Although the man behind the tramp rose to fame and was then thrown off his pedestal during political events that would change the way people looked at him forever,the messages that he portrayed via his camera and characters would reveal the prominent and permanent position in which he rested. Accusations of communism and attacking capitalism would not stop the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarding him with an honorary award for his contribution to cinema. His most well identified character of ‘The Tramp’ makes his debut in the KeyStone FilmCompany titled ‘Kid Auto Races at Venice Beach’. The Keystone Company had a reputation for their humor consisting of violent acts (pushing, hurting one another) and for the use of speed in their films. The shots with a punch line increase in speed as the movie goes on, an idea that assembles the audience’s reactions reflecting what is seen on screen.
The film begins with a shot of a crowd ofpeople who are gathered to watch the races. People watch as young men push carts to and from the wooden ramp in the background. To our left we notice a man dressed in a black jacket, pants, a bowler hat and a cane. This figure, which is now universally acclaimed at the time, was virtually unknown. The arrival of this presence, of this cinematic body that consumes the screen soon acknowledges theaudience of the skit to be revealed. The character of the Tramp ‘discovers’ that there is a camera to which he then follows for his own pleasure, an idea that would later reflect Charlie Chaplin’s movie career. With the different cuts that ensue Chaplin carries himself over as a spectator of the race, the crowd looks into the camera as it displays a faux-actualization to the audience itself. The trampcharacter builds an interest with being in the perspective of the camera. As the camera pans over the crowd it becomes more noticeable that he only just wants to be seen, no real motive, no harassing gestures to suggest that he has an obsession with sensationalism but instead he plays on a theme of curiosity, one that at the time of filming would have been incredible as the cinema was still youngat age. The world famous Chaplin facial expressions come into play, suggesting glances that are incredibly exaggerated and comical, relieving the audience that the character means any harm, as this was the Tramps first appearance onscreen. This idea can be confirmed with the aesthetic attraction, as Chaplin’s gaze remains locked on the audience as if to constantly remind us that he is there.The film was made during a real life kid auto race where they placed Chaplin and his co-stars amongst the crowd of people who were both aware of what was happening and unsettled by the character of Chaplin. The doubling perspective of reality that Chaplin creates almost parodies the films of Lumiere as they reflect the idea of actualizations, turning them into a comedy as Chaplin hoards the screen.The connection between these two films is the Sortie D’Usines where people are filmed leaving a factory. There is the essence of the actualization in Chaplin and the cemented idea of the actualization being the cause for the Lumiere film. Actualization is mentioned in a quasi-mode of term because of the crowd who were watching the races and inn some shots of the film they are noticeably aware...
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