G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If Charlie Chaplin Came Along Today...

Today April 16 2014 is 125th Birth Anniversary of Charlie Chaplin



George Orwell, Film Review, 'The Great Dictator' in Time & Tide, December 21 1940:


"...What is Chaplin's peculiar gift? It is his power to stand for a sort of concentrated essence of the common man, for the ineradicable belief in decency that exists in the hearts of ordinary people, at any rate in the West. We live in a period in which democracy is almost everywhere in retreat, supermen in control of three-quarters of the world, liberty explained away by sleek professors, Jew-baiting defended by pacifists. And yet everywhere, under the surface, the common man sticks obstinately to the beliefs that he derives from the Christian culture. The common man is wiser than the intellectuals, just as animals are wiser than men. Any intellectual can make you out a splendid "case" for smashing the German Trade Unions and torturing the Jews. But the common man, who has no intellect, only instinct and tradition, knows that "it isn't right." Anyone who has not lost his moral sense—and an education in Marxism and similar creeds consists largely in destroying your moral sense—knows that "it isn't right" to march into the houses of harmless little Jewish shopkeepers and set fire to their furniture. More than in any humorous trick, I believe, Chaplin's appeal lies in his power to reassert the fact, overlaid by Fascism and, ironically enough, by Socialism, that vox populi is vox Dei and giants are vermin.
No wonder that Hitler, from the moment he came to power, has banned Chaplin's films in Germany!...If our Government had a little more imagination they would subsidize The Great Dictator heavily and would make every effort to get a few copies into Germany—a thing that ought not to be beyond human ingenuity..."



Andrew O'Hehir:

"...As his (Alfred Hitchcock) onetime star Tippi Hedren has recently discussed, his treatment of her while shooting “The Birds” and “Marnie” would today be considered sexual harassment, if not sexual abuse. Nearly all of that, emotionally speaking, is visible on screen. Hitchcock’s masterfully constructed suspense classics contain many levels, but we already knew they documented an intense and partly hostile obsession with a certain variety of unavailable, unfaithful and untrustworthy woman. Hitchcock’s sins are far enough in the past that his reputation as a filmmaker has suffered little or not at all from these revelations. Contrast that to Charlie Chaplin, whose career was pretty well destroyed by political persecution and a series of sex scandals (involving teenage girls) in the 1940s. It took 30 years for public opinion to move past that stuff, and for Chaplin to be restored to the pantheon as one of the medium’s all-time greats..."

Woody Allen:

"...Even in a popular art form like film, in the U.S. most people haven’t seen The Bicycle Thief or The Grand Illusion or Persona. Most people go through their whole lives without seeing any of them. Most of the younger generation supporting the films that are around now in such abundance don’t care about Buñuel or Bergman. They’re not aware of the highest achievements of the art form. Once in a great while something comes together by pure accident of time and place and chance. Charlie Chaplin came along at the right time. If he’d come along today, he’d have had major problems..."
 
My late mother had had some  tough years. I don't think she ever went without food but I guess, at her mother's home,  on a few days a year, there was not enough to go around.


Such days were not entirely scarce even after her marriage to my father in 1957.

She used to tell me about a scene from David Lean's  'Dr. Zhivago' (1965) where a woman is shown eating a boiled potato. She said she was so hungry while watching the scene that she was envious of that poor woman!

She was lucky that she wasn't watching Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush', 1925. 

The late V V Shirwadkar (वि. वा. शिरवाडक) says:

"'...गोल्ड रश' हा चार्ली चॅप्लिनचा मला वाटते, अखेरचा मूक चित्रपट होता. मूक चित्रपटाचे सारे ऐश्वर्य, शब्दावाचून बोलण्याचे सारे सामथ्र्य त्यात प्रगट झाले होते... अनेक दिवसांच्या उपासानंतर चार्लीने व त्याच्या धिप्पाड मित्राने पायांतील बूट उचलून टेबलावर ठेवले आहेत आणि एखादे पक्वान्न पुढय़ात आहे अशा आविर्भावाने काटय़ाचमच्यांनी ते बूट खात आहेत..."

(...'The Gold Rush' is I feel Charlie Chaplin's  last silent film. All the wealth of silent films, strength of speaking without words manifested themselves in it...after going without food for many days Charlie and his gigantic friend have kept their shoes on the table and they eat those shoes with spoon and fork as if it is some kind of delicacy...)

When you are hungry probably even shoes taste alright.

Comedians at Lunch: W C Fields, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Groucho Marx 

(notice the shoe in Chaplin's hand!)

Artist: Albert "Al" Hirschfeld (1903-2003), Published: May 1 2000


Courtesy: Al Hirschfeld Foundation. Please visit http://www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org/splash/

 I watched Buster Keaton's 'The General', 1926 only a few years ago.

The 'silences' of Chaplin and Keaton are different.



David Thomson / Peter Aspden“Chaplin made silence one more way of seeming above the world, while Keaton’s quiet is as stricken as ruined philosophy. So Chaplin is silently noisy with protestation and pleas for affection, and Keaton suspects the deepest things cannot be told or uttered.”

I feel closer to Keaton's silence.


Artist: Alain, The New Yorker, 20 January 1934

No comments: