Embark on a journey to 1921 and immerse yourself in the remarkable story of Charlie Chaplin‘s iconic first movie, The Kid.
The actor-director’s unforgettable portrayal of The Tramp, a lovable vagabond dressed in a ragged yet elegant suit, captures the hearts of audiences worldwide.
As The Tramp roams the streets, he stumbles upon an abandoned baby in an alley. Unsure of what to do and reluctant to take responsibility, he humorously attempts to dispose of the infant, but to no avail.
Unbeknownst to him, the child’s mother, an unmarried girl, had left him in an expensive car, hoping the wealthy owners would provide a secure upbringing. However, car thieves steal the vehicle and dump the baby in the alley, leading to the fateful meeting between The Tramp and the child.
Over time, The Tramp grows attached to the boy, naming him John, and welcomes him into his humble abode. Meanwhile, the mother, stricken with guilt, searches for her son, only to faint upon discovering the stolen car.
Many years later, The Kid and The Tramp still live together, surviving through petty scams and theft, while the mother becomes a wealthy actress dedicated to charitable work.
Meanwhile, all this time, the mother has become a wealthy actress and does charity work by donating gifts to poor children, trying to redeem the shame she feels for abandoning her son.
However, their paths will cross again while the authorities try to remove the Kid from the Tramp’s broken home.
The Colorful Days of Black and White Cinema
Despite being a movie without sound or words, The Kid touches spectators’ hearts and souls through the power of its images from 1921 to the present.
Chaplin’s cunning and gentle gaze captures the essence of fragile humanity in all its nuances. Although the character may appear selfish and lonely, he is actually a genuine and profound representation of the whole society, with its flaws and virtues.
Indeed, the movie explores love and responsibility through a universal message of hope and compassion, showing there is nothing more human than caring for a child, even in the most challenging circumstances.
This message needs no cinematic excess or deception, instead expressing ideas and thoughts through comedy, proving that every laugh is a brick contributing to building an invincible fortress of emotions and meaning.
Despite the limited technical resources of the time, Chaplin achieved an exceptional work of art. The camera is always steady, and the action unfolds almost without editing cuts, separating the various scenes with the famous and melancholy intertitles.
The movie transcends language and time barriers with this simple but effective narrative structure, offering a unique and timeless cinematic experience.
Other great directors, such as Sergio Leone, took inspiration from Chaplin’s simplicity. Just like The Tramp, the characters in his famous Westerns are direct and focused on purpose, without needing many words or introductions.
Far from today’s interminable blockbusters, this 1920s gem runs just over an hour, offering an intense and satisfying experience.
Of course, this was more of a limitation than a real choice because, in those days, motion picture film was very expensive, prompting directors to focus on the essentials and make the most of every frame.
The Sound of Freedom Unleashed in Mute Cinema
After The Kid in 1921, Charlie Chaplin quickly gained a place of honor among the most beloved actors and directors of silent movies.
His philosophy and the iconic character of The Tramp are only just beginning and would be further developed in even more successful films such as City Lights and Modern Times.
However, not everyone liked the themes in his stories and how Chaplin depicted society.
This critical attitude culminated in 1952 with his expulsion from the United States due to alleged communist sympathies never really demonstrated nor confessed by the great artist.
An exile that will be only temporary, despite the controversy, as Chaplin will later return in 1957 with A King in New York, which unfortunately will be his penultimate movie.
Beyond any political ideology, his impact on the cinematic industry remains unmatched, as does his status as a big-screen legend.
The young actor who plays The Kid, Jackie Coogan, also achieves fame by perfectly embodying this lovable rogue, proving no less cunning and skillful than The Tramp.
His talent and charisma on the big screen allowed him to solidify his career in the television business as well.
Indeed, in the 1960s, he arrived at the iconic role that would make him famous to a new generation of viewers: the wacky Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.
Finally, the cast of this fable comes complete with the sweet female presence of Edna Purviance, in the role of a single mother who represents the struggle and courage of women of that era, facing challenges and prejudice with determination and grit.
In addition, the beautiful actress Edna Purviance was Chaplin’s companion for a time, further solidifying the bond between the two artists on the set and in real life.