The Circus (1928)
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Critic Reviews for The Circus
It's a brilliant combination of light and darkness, tenderness and violence and, yes, laughter and tears.
There's an edge to The Circus that suggests a man gazing deep into the void, laughing at the darkness and urging us to do the same.
It is the political subtext and discussion of capitalism vs. communism that is the saving grace of The Circus, since the surface material, comprised of frantic slapstick mixed with maudlin and melodrama, is very standard for Chaplin.
Audience Reviews for The Circus
A very amusing and delightful silent film that probably would have been better had it been made a bit shorter, since it begins extremely hilarious but after a while starts to become less funny - even though the climax on the tightrope is belly-achingly hysterical.
The Circus is quite a charming little film from the silent era, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. He of course plays the "little tramp" character who, while being chased by the cops, stumbles into the middle of a three ring circus where his antics draw the attention (and laughs), of the audience. The crowd's reaction does not escape the attention of circus proprietor and Ring Master (Al Garcia), who attempts to hire the tramp as a clown. The little tramp can only be funny spontaneously, and all the ring master's attempts at training him to be a clown fail, so the boss hires the tramp on as a janitor, whom he finds surreptitious ways to put out in front of the crowd at showtime. Of course the ring master has a beautiful step-daughter (Merna Kennedy), who is kowtowed to the ring master after years of abuse. The tramp falls in love with her and tries to win her affection. It's said that after choosing the circus location, Chaplin largely improvised the film, which is probably why the plot is so basic. However, films from this era (especially comedies) are rarely plot-heavy, relying on different situations and tableaus rather than in depth story-telling. The Circus does deviate in the end from other standard stories, and it's final scene is quite effective. Overall, a sweet comedy that lets just the tiniest bit of real life peek through the movie screen.
This movie is really fun, cute, and humorous, I enjoyed it, and I recommend it.
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