In 1921, Charlie Chaplin returned home to his native England after nine years of absence. He was honored by the mayor of Southampton and subsequently welcomed by masses of people in the streets of London on September 17th. The people packing the streets beamed with happiness and reached out for Charlie as if he were an old friend. The excitement upon his return was comparable only to the homecomings of war heroes just a couple years earlier. England was still feeling the effects of The Great War in 1921 when Chaplin returned.
Chaplin transitioned from theater to film in 1913, just one year before the war began, and with his character “the Tramp” came instant fame. The English, like many in the world, were likely following his comedy throughout the War and valued it as a bright spot in wartime darkness.
As Chaplin’s career progressed he became increasingly dissatisfied with his work. He claimed that performance is only a small aspect of the cinematic product and became concerned with the formal aspects of film like cinematography, writing, and directing. Virginia Woolf addresses this formal concern in “Modern Fiction,” claiming that there is no correct “method” of artistic expression, but the method directly informs what is being expressed. Chaplin unknowingly addressed this theory in his own way and sees it through by applying his artistic vision to all formal aspects of cinematic production.
Posted by: Macy Pniewski
Brody, Richard. “Charlie Chaplin’s Scandalous Life and Boundless Artistry.” New Yorker 18 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Web.
“More welcome than many heroes ; The Chaplin homecoming.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 17 Sept. 1921: 380. Illustrated London News. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” 1919. Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach. Edited by Michael McKeon. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000.739-44.
Charlie Chaplin. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.
Charlie Chaplin and Crowds outside the Ritz 1921. Digital image. Flashbak. N.p., 13 May 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
British Pathé. “Charlie Chaplin Comes Home (1921).” Online video clip. Youtube. 13 April 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.