Comedic taste changes with every generation, but the work of Charlie Chaplin has remained funny across more than a century of moviegoing. In a trio of new video essays, filmmaker and critic David Cairns breaks down a few of the signature motifs and techniques that Chaplin repeated to crowd-pleasing effect throughout his career. The series kicks off with a focus on the master’s dance-like movements, which often serve as a counterpoint to the unpredictably chaotic environments his characters find themselves in. Whether rollerskating (blindfolded!) near the edge of a floor with no balustrade or trying his best not to get punched in a boxing match, Chaplin delighted in navigating the most absurd situations with balletic grace and rhythmic precision, qualities he learned from his early days as a music-hall performer. Watch the above video for a look at some of the memorably choreographed set pieces in classics like Modern Times, The Great Dictator, and City Lights. And stop by the Current next week for the next episode in Cairns’s series.
Ira Sachs Finds a Model of Artistic Courage in Je tu il elle
The director of Frankie and Keep the Lights On opens up about how the emotional and sexual candor of Chantal Akerman’s feature debut has inspired his own deeply personal approach to cinema.
Harold Lloyd’s Ingenious Blend of Slapstick and Horror in The Kid Brother
In one of his most ambitious sequences, the silent-comedy legend throws his innocent “glasses” character into a death trap of a setting.
How The Qatsi Trilogy Gave RaMell Ross a New Way of Seeing
The Oscar-nominated director of Hale County This Morning, This Evening finds an expansive political vision in the mind-altering work of Godfrey Reggio.
Morgan Neville Goes Through the Looking Glass with F for Fake
The Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker unpacks the wild inventiveness of Orson Welles and the late-career masterpiece that inspired his own approach to his new movie They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.