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Chaplin (15th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: A
  • Rating:PG-13
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 15, 2011
  • List Price: $19.99

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BestBuy.com:
Chaplin - Widescreen Subtitle Dolby Dts

Purchase Chaplin on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]


Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

One of the most difficult film types to pull off  successfully is the autobiography of an entertainment legend. When the entertainment legend is Charlie Chaplin, every movie lover thinks that he or she already knows all there is to be known about the film’s hero. For a figure like Chaplin, the problem is compounded by the fact that he lived a very long life.  Robert Downey, Jr. who assumes the role of Chaplin overcame his personal demons long enough to turn in not just an extraordinary impersonation but veritable reanimation of this equally troubled cinematic genius.  Downey is aided by a stellar supporting cast including Dan Akroyd (Mack Sennett), Geraldine Chaplin (Hannah, Charlie’s mother), Anthony Hopkins (Chaplin’s biographer), Kevin Kline (Douglas Fairbanks, Sr),  Diane Lane (Paulette Goddard, Charlie’s third wife), and Moira Kelly (double role of Chaplin’s first love and later, his last wife, Oona O’Neill).  While running 135 minutes, the pacing is quite good with very few longueurs, and the essential events of Chaplin’s life, minus some of his philandering, are adequately covered.  Richard Attenborough is to be applauded for taking a “warts and all” approach to the film’s direction yet maintaining a pretty sympathetic view of this iconic star.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The cinematography is generally vivid in its recreation of the varied settings in the United States and Europe, the grand estates, the vaudeville theaters, the primitive movie sets, and the changing eras of most of the 20th century. The characters’ costumes are outstanding and the scene in which Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (Kevin Kline) throws a Roaring 20’s cocktail party while showing off his swashbuckling moves is simply outstanding.  There is judicious insertion of silent film clips which appear appropriately faded,  given their age. What puzzled me most was Downey’s aging or lack thereof as the film progressed. Until the Chaplin character reaches advanced old age, where the make up job is very convincing, most of the passage of time involves the dyeing of Downey’s hair but with no added wrinkles or jowls. Likewise, Moira Kelly as Oona O’Neill Chaplin ages little over the 30 years of their marriage.  Shades of Dorian Grey?

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio provides a somewhat distant soundscape. Dialogue is clear and there are no significant surround effects.  The soundtrack is pretty dreary only lightened up by the brief insertion of Chaplin’s own masterful song, “Smile.”  Given Chaplin’s fascination with music, this was my disappointment with this film.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

This 15th anniversary edition is surprisingly short on supplements. There are 3 brief featurettes on Chaplin and the making of this movie with some redundant material in each one. A brief Chaplin home movie “All at Sea” is also included.

The Definitive Word
Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Chaplin is a tour de force performance by Robert Downey, Jr, that makes for very satisfying viewing.  I was continually impressed by Downey’s complete inhabitation of the Chaplin persona, capture of his quirky mannerisms, and, most importantly, the credibility of the man himself. The supporting cast is mostly superb and works extremely well together in what might have turned into an unbalanced single star vehicle.  Attenborough’s direction keeps things running smoothly and, for the most part, stays out of the way of his cast.  For those who have not seen the reissues of Chaplin’s silent movies, this film should dispel any notion that they are either excessively dated or not very funny. Do yourself a favor and buy or rent any one of the Chaplin DVD collections out there, curl up with some popcorn, and laugh yourself silly.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product]B004DTLK62[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Chaplin - Widescreen Subtitle Dolby Dts

Purchase Chaplin on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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