Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: Chaplin: His Life and Art

David Robinson's examination of the silent film comedian, Charlie Chaplin, is a must-read if you have an interest in Chaplin's life and extensive experiences at the birth of American Cinema. Chaplin: His Life and Art uses a multitude of sources to help give witness to the actor from many viewpoints and addresses the various inconsistencies found in Chaplin's own autobiography.

For those interested in comparing the two, I recommend reading My Autobiography first. His Life and Art is clearly written and includes many details about Chaplin's life, work habits, and influence on the film industry and the people around him. Other treats are sections of photos from his private and professional life as well as images of childhood photos and publicity flyers.

I found my educational experience was heightened by also watching the films mentioned in detail in both books. Sometimes a written description of how a gag had evolved is not nearly as vibrant until you can see the end result. (That and they are hilarious!) It is a rare opportunity to not only read about a man's life but get to watch his works unfold in front of your eyes in a visual way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it as essential to any person interested in learning about Charlie Chaplin or the birth of Hollywood and the movie industry.

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