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Analysis of The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921)

The success and popularity of the film The Kid has been greatly established and reviewed over the years. The movie opens with an inter-title a story with a smile perhaps, a tear suggests that the movie will make you laugh and smile at the humorous actions and also feel sympathetic towards the tramp and the kid when they are separated. The narrative is told by words that appear as inter-titles, before something happens in the movie. After the first inter-title appears on screen we see an image of a charity hospital. The music portrays the sad and dramatic mood of the first scene. The womans sin was motherhood and therefore she has to abandon her baby in an alley. From scene to scene fade ins and outs seemed like a popular edit to add to the moods in the film. The overall structure includes C.Us of the tramp and the kid to show their expressions when they were reunited/separated etc. There was also an expressive and loud orchestra, which accompanied the film. The film is in B&W, but we can still see the difference between night and day when we look at the aperture and how much light the audience is seeing. In the scene when the tramp finds the baby, an oval circle surrounds him the oval circle changes in size in this scene but we can tell it is in daylight as we can see the sky in the next scene. We can also see some editing techniques when the scene fades in using the oval shape to open the scene up. You could see the difference between night and day as in the night you can observe lanterns and lights on in the streets. The music was very classy and soft using orchestral instruments such as brass and percussion. The music is very relaxing, and then at times dramatic. The music was conducted by a man called Carl Davis and composed by Charlie Chaplin himself. The end scene when the kid is taken away from the tramp with the music playing over is emotional and touching. It is overwhelming that Chaplin directed and composed the music for this spectacular movie, when as a child he had no father to support him and a mentally ill mother to live with. As the kid is being taken out of the house, the music gets a little more speedy and dramatic portraying the rush and frantic state the tramp is in. Chaplin's excellent and moving score for The Kid was composed in 1971 for a theatrical re-release, but used themes that Chaplin had composed in 1921.The music throughout has a powerful effect on the viewer watching. Having no formal training beforehand and not knowing how to read and write music was really an exceptional talent of Chaplins. The editing in The Kid was very well done in describing each scene and what was happening. In the moneymaking scene where the kid is now 5, we see the kid throwing a rock at a window and seeing the rock going through the window and smashing it. Then after we see him throw the rock again and hearing the smash from the window a good recording of the sound placed into this scene. After this scene we see the kid running away down the street, he is running faster so I assume this scene has been speeded up to add to the rush of getting away. We see the kid again breaking a window, but this time the smashing sound is delayed so the editing isnt spot on in this scene. Then we see the same window getting smashed again and the sound it makes is very quiet, where in reality it would make a loud sound since the throw was forced. After these scenes we see an inter-title Alls well. job number 13. There is a fade in to the scene where the tramp is fixing the broken window by replacing it. Off duty is the next inter-title, which adds to the comical effect as he is flirting and laughing with his customer. We see speech when we come to the scene where the kids mother and father meet at a party. The father says to the mother How may I atone for the

suffering Ive- cutting him off shes says its too late now unless the child , the music in this scene is more dramatic and sad whereas in the next scene where the kid is making breakfast for the tramp it is more light-hearted. Chaplin re-edited the film somewhat for the re-release; cutting scenes that he felt were overly sentimental, such as Purviance's portrayal as a saint, outlined by a church's stained glass window. The editing did the movie justice, it was easy to follow and the inter-titles were clear and understandable. Charlie Chaplin starred in the film and also directed it, so I think there is an autobiographical element to the film. The relationship between the tramp and the kid I think is how the relationship between him and his real son would have looked like. Chaplin found it difficult to produce The Kid since the movie was inspired by the death of his first son Norman Spencer Chaplin. Jackie Coogan, who entertained the distributors and convinced them to go ahead with the shooting, plays the kid in the movie. Chaplins divorce to Mildred Harris also played a part. Charlie and the crew head to Salt Lake City to complete the editing away from all negative reminders. He feared that Mildred lawyers might try to seize the film, so he smuggled 500 reels to film in Salt Lake. When a preview of the movie was arranged at the local movie theatre, Chaplin had still not seen the finished picture on screen due to stress of the divorce. The marriage to Mildred in 1919 was already showing signs of strain and he has said himself that he would go to his studio day after day and look for inspiration, but it never came. So this just proves that the death of his son had a huge impact on him and inspired him to feature a 6-reel romance in which he starred. This movie represents cinematic comedy, as this was one of the old film features then. Comedy is seen in a lot of silent movies and a great example of this is seen in The Kid. Another feature in this film of early cinema is how the viewers form feelings such as sympathy, sadness and love for the actors. We feel sad when the child is taking away and when he starts crying no words are used just the expressions on the characters faces says it all. We feel complete love for the tramp when he scares off the driver and rescues the kid he is a hero at this point. On screen inter-titles also reflected the early cinema period. There was no other sound other than the music, but there didnt have to be because we understood what each scene portrayed by the actors and inter-titles. The inter-titles were there for speech, quotes, names of places etc. So the viewer wasnt confused where it took place. In early cinema they loved to show close ups of the actors faces to show them crying or laughing. An obvious feature would be the B&W films, where no colour was to be scene. Dramatic and soft orchestral music was always included in silent movies. In this case the music is dramatic and soft at times and adds to the mood in each scene. Bibliography:
On-line Sources: (Internet movie database synopsis of The Kid) (A complete synopsis and essay on The Kid) (Chaplins movie techniques and complete music collection) (Charlie Chaplin filmography, biography, facts and more) (Chaplins music) Filmography:
The kid (Charlie Chaplin, USA, New York City, Salt Lake City, 1921)