Manuscript Documenting Chaplin’s First Attempt At Making A “Talkie” Discovered

It goes without saying that Charlie Chaplin was a prolific cinematic entity.   Be it the films he actually had the chance to shoot, or the ones that he ended up having to scrap, Chaplin was never without a project somewhere in production.

Now, the most famous unfulfilled Chaplin project was the Napolean Bonaparte biopic, but there appears to be yet another one, marking the director’s first attempt at doing a ‘talkie’ feature.

The Guardian is reporting that a manuscript has been discovered, accounting to 50 hand written pages that ‘outline the dialogue for a satire on colonialism, inspired by the British-born star’s visit to the Indonesian island of Bali in 1932.’

Allegedly a flawed piece of writing, the manuscript revealed that the film, entitled Bali, would satirize the European sense of arrogance, leading to the ‘the invasion of a people’s idyllic life.’ Making fun of various aspects of colonialism, primarily taxing and the impacts of authority on a body of people, the film appears to have Chaplin’s patented style of satire, and feels something like an extension of a film like Modern Times.

Dating The Great Dictator, it is interesting to see that Chaplin was looking at making a talking picture much sooner than one had originally thought.   Personally, as a person who thinks that Dictator is Chaplin’s strongest film, it would be interesting to have seen what he could have done earlier in his career. Here’s to hoping this manuscript will be released.   Maybe Janus could get a hold of it for a huge Chaplin Criterion Collection box set? I’d sure love to have this thing as a booklet in a set.   Just a thought.

What do you think?

Source: The Guardian

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.

1 comment

  • Charlie Chaplin was the world’s funniest man, and a comic genius. I’ve just uploaded to YouTube a 4-minute film that I wrote and directed called, “London Remembers Charlie Chaplin”.  It celebrates the little man’s birth in London in 1889, because of course Charlie Chaplin was a Londoner. :)