The Tramp

(December 16, 2020) We need Charlie Chaplin now more than ever. 100 years ago, as the modern world was trying to rebuild in the wake of its first World War, straining under the weight of migration of disenfranchised people seeking a better life, and limping through its first global pandemic, Chaplin brought a rare combination of pathos, empathy, and humor through his self-effacing character, The Tramp. He showed the shame of poverty offset by the right to dignity and respect that even the most destitute deserved. He dealt with issues of family separation, marital strife, and public disgust at being confronted by the downtrodden, all through the intricate language of gesture that was key to silent film’s expressive power. His mastery of the medium and championing of the downtrodden made him the darling of the European avant-garde. Leger celebrated him in drawings that essentialized his key features: bowler hat, bamboo cane, floppy shoes, and made a moving wooden puppet of him that was featured in his 1924 classic Ballet Mechanique. Chaplain was equally beloved in Russia, especially by the Constructivists, who celebrated not only his heroization of an impoverished outcast of bourgeois society, but also emphasized his unsurpassed skill at choreographing movement with the technical limitations of cinema to create an unparalleled emotional performance devoid of any spoken word. More images here. #thedruttreport #charliechaplin