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The Kid [MOVIE REVIEW]

One of the more celebrated silent films is without a doubt 'The Kid' from 1921 starring the ever so great Charlie Chaplin who of course also wrote the screenplay and directed the 68 minute long film about a comedy with a smile--and perhaps a tear. What is interesting to note as well for anyone who is not very well aware of Charlie Chaplin's place in movie history is that he not only starred, wrote and directed many of his films - he also composed the score, edited them and produced them – basically it’s pretty much a one man band that controls the entire production. This is why it’s so impressive that ‘The Kid’ is a spectacular movie.

A single mother deposits her newborn child in a limousine and goes off to commit suicide. The limo is then stolen by thieves who decide to dump the baby next to a garbage can (and yes I did originally expect them to drop him in the can). Later on, Charlie the Tramp finds the baby and adopts him. The Kid is given the name John but it is never used in the film (after all it is a silent film). The film then cuts to five years later and they run into several events that could jeopardize their relationship.


It is a relatively basic story which of course is to be expected as it barely crosses the hour mark but it is so tightly focused and efficiently written that it ends with more pathos than 90% of all comedies being released today. Chaplin manages to grab the audience’s attention with the very first frame and almost never let’s go until the end credits. Yes, if you have never seen a silent film before and feel very unsure if you could manage to watch one without getting terribly bored – don’t worry because ‘The Kid’ is a very entertaining watch and the shorter running time prevents it from ever overstaying its welcome. If you happen to be a person looking for a film that can ease you into the silent film era of movies then I can definitely recommend ‘The Kid’ as the one you check out first before proceeding to longer and more “advanced” productions. The only thing detrimental to the plot is the lack of stakes in the first two thirds of the film as the actual plot enters a bit late in the game – but is then put on halt by a dream sequence which I will discuss in the spoiler section.


The acting all around is fantastic seeing as of course the whole film relies on their body language to move the plot forward like a silent film does which I have to mention, is a genre I am not very well versed on. I could easily name a couple of titles but I have seen very-very few. But I can without a doubt say that after seeing how well the actors manage to tell the story using nothing but their bodies I am very interested in checking more of them out in the not too distant future. The Kid is played by Jackie Coogan who later went on to become Uncle Fester in ‘The Addams Family’, he does a wonderful job in the film as a very normal kid who clearly loves the Tramp as much as the Tramp loves him. He pulls of slapstick really well for being only seven years old at the time and when the character is supposed to cry – you will believe he is crying (in fact his father told him that if he would not cry, he would be sent to an actual workhouse!).

The music is as I mentioned earlier; composed by Chaplin himself and it is in nature a very vital part of the film seeing as this is the only sound we’re going to hear throughout the film
In a very strange decision the only sound effect (at least I noticed) is of the kid throwing a rock at a window which could be heard about two times which seemed a bit unnecessary as the scene really didn’t require it compared to any other scene. The only reason I can think of is that the kid throws one rock that hits the window out of frame so maybe the sound effect was needed in order for the audience to understand that it did hit – but then again we literally just saw one shot were the window got smashed. Not sure about the reasoning behind that or if it’s normal for silent movies. 
In conclusion, ‘The Kid’ is a fantastic film that still holds up today almost 100 years later and with the everlasting charm of Chaplin’s and Coogan’s astonishing performances. 

SPOILER.
The one negative point I have about the film that is a spoiler is the famous dream sequence – and no, not the scene itself. The problem I have is that it does go on for a little too long. I initially wondered why it was even in the film because it seemed to serve no purpose but after going through it and the rest of the film inside my head I realized the dream occurred when the Tramp was at his lowest point, he seemed to have lost everything and starts dreaming what I can only imagine is his fantasy of happiness – but other than that I do not know what sort of purpose it serves and it is by far the weakest part of the film. Another problem is that the kid shows up in the dream which of course if it was the Tramp’s happy land then obviously the kid would be there but it does take away from the ending of the film. What could’ve been done is to shorten the scene down and show him being happy in other ways that did not include the little kid.



9/10


- Lucas

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