Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2012
CHAPLIN  [15th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] Everyone Has a Wild Side! Even A legend! He Made The Whole World Laugh and Cry!
Robert Downey Jr. captures the essence of comic genius Charlie Chaplin in a compelling, nuanced performance that earned him an OSCAR® and a Golden Globe® nominations for Best Actor. Director Sir Richard Attenborough's well-crafted portrait traces Charlie Chaplin's impoverished London upbringing, extraordinary success as an actor and director, his troubled marriages, scandalous affairs, shocking exile to Switzerland and his triumphant return to Hollywood. The huge star-studded cast includes Kevin Kline, Dan Aykroyd, Milla Jovovich, Diane Lane and Geraldine Chaplin (as her own grandmother), and Robert Downey, Jr.'s astonishing mimicry of Charlie Chaplin's gait, gestures and accents complete a dazzlingly authentic portrait of one of cinema's first pop culture icons.
FILM FACT: Academy Awards® Nominated: Best Actor for Robert Downey Jr. Nominated: Best Original Score for John Barry. Nominated: Best Art Direction for Chris A. Butler and Stuart Craig. BAFTA® Awards: Won: Best Actor for Robert Downey Jr. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Ellen Mirojnick and John Mollo. Nominated: Best Makeup and Hair for Jill Rockow, John Caglione, Jr. and Wally Schneiderman. Nominated: Best Production Design for Stuart Craig. Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Original Score for John Barry. Nominated: Best Actor for Drama for Robert Downey Jr. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress for Geraldine Chaplin.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, John Thaw, Moira Kelly, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Kline, Maria Pitillo, Milla Jovovich, Kevin Dunn, Deborah Moore, Diane Lane, Nancy Travis, James Woods, Hugh Downer (Charlie Age 5), Nicholas Gatt (Sydney Age 9), Bill Paterson, Anthony Bowles, Howard Lew Lewis, P.H. Moriarty, Thomas Bradford (Charlie Age 14), Liz Porter, Marcus Eyre, Gerald Sim, Graham Sinclair, Karen Lewis, Andrée Bernard, Carole Jahme, Jacqueline Leonard, Claire Perriam, Theresa Petts, David Gant, Mary Healey, Phil Brown, Matthew Cottle, Ena Baga, David Duchovny, David Mooney, Francesca Buller, Nick Corello, Richard Fast, Brad Blumenthal, Yoshio Be, David Totheroh, Jack Totheroh, Jack Ritschel, Heather McNair, Alan Charof, Benjamin Whitrow, Stuart Richman, Mark Vegh, Robert Stephens, Sky Rumph (Charles Chaplin jr. Age 7), Bradley Pierce (Sydney Chaplin jr. Age 8), Richard James, William Dennis Hunt, Michael Blevins, Norbert Weisser, Noah Lee Margetts, John Standing, Michael A. Goorjian (Charles Chaplin Jr.), Michael Cade (Sydney Chaplin Jr.), Emma Lewis, Kenneth W Caravan (uncredited), Charles Chaplin (archive footage uncredited), Virginia Cherrill (archive footage uncredited), Jackie Coogan (archive footage uncredited), Paulette Goddard (archive footage uncredited), Adolf Hitler (archive footage uncredited), Vivien Latham (Silent Movie Actress uncredited), John Howard Lawson (archive footage uncredited), Jack Lemmon (archive footage uncredited), Joseph McCarthy (archive footage uncredited), Annie Muñoz (uncredited), Julius Schaub (archive footage uncredited), Mack Swain (archive footage uncredited), Daniel Taradash (archive footage uncredited) and Laurel Whitsett (uncredited)
Director: Sir Richard Attenborough
Producers: Sir Richard Attenborough, Mario Kassar, Diana Hawkins and Terence A. Clegg
Screenplay: Bryan Forbes, William Boyd, William Goldman, David Robinson (book "Chaplin His Life and Art") and Diana Hawkins (story)
Composer: John Barry
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 135 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Sir Richard Attenborough's biographical film ‘CHAPLIN' is of the life and times of Charlie Chaplin, is a very charming, creative and ultimately moving insight into what made Charlie Chaplin tick and shows you why he was a genius and loved by people all over the world. Robert Downey Jr. does a really excellent job at re-creating Charlie Chaplin's graceful slapstick and getting inside the silent-film superstar's head over many years of triumph, defeat, scandal, official persecution, exile, and inner peace.
The film is packed with stars in small roles, as everyone plays second banana to Charlie Chaplin, especially Marisa Tomei, Milla Jovovich, David Duchovney, Dan Akroyd, Moira Kelly, and Geraldine Chaplin, just to name a few. The period accuracy is well done, and the acting is superb and just shows more of Charlie Chaplin doing what he does best in making people laugh! But of course it all showed the negative side when you see James Woods as a prosecutor working hard to nail Charlie Chaplin for anti-American sentiments and making Charlie Chaplin pay $75.00 a week in a paternity case.
To his credit, Sir Richard Attenborough shows `CHAPLIN' as the social activist who had an FBI files, close to 2,000 pages in length. The drama, at times, seemed a bit much for someone known for bringing joy to so many... perhaps, therein lays the irony of Chaplin's life. Seeing this film makes you appreciate why Charlie Chaplin was a genius, especially seeing Robert Downey, Jr. in top form in this Oscar nominated performance and ode to one of cinema's greatest artists who was the forerunner for such "control freaks" as Warren Beatty and Orson Wells. Writer, director, actor, producer, editor... Charlie Chaplin did it all!
As expected from a Sir Richard Attenborough film, ‘CHAPLIN’ boasts strong production values. The editing and camerawork are smooth. There's a wonderful "life imitates art" scene where Charlie Chaplin is being chased by the police, and this couldn't have been better composed. The aging effects are some of the best I've seen. When Charlie Chaplin is old, he looks like he's being played by an elderly actor, not Robert Downey Jr. under a mountain of makeup. Veteran composer John Barry's score, while perhaps too reminiscent of his ‘Dances with Wolves’ music, is evocative. All-in-all, however, even though ‘CHAPLIN’ is fitfully entertaining, it fails to touch enough emotional chords to make it of more than passing interest.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The Blu-ray appears to be derived from the same transfer used for the LIONSGATE 2008 inferior NTSC DVD. The greater resolution afforded by Blu-ray is something of a revelation. In the earlier scenes in England, detail is noticeably improved and colour delineation is superior. You can make out individual faces in images such as the music hall and vaudeville audiences, as well as different articles of clothing in medium shots. But overall the picture remains soft and sometimes almost mushy, and one begins to worry that perhaps the transfer was flawed in a way that DVD's resolution concealed. When Charlie Chaplin steps off the train at Mack Sennett's studio, and snap! The entire photographic style changes. Without calling too much attention to themselves (without, in other words, looking like a Tony Scott or Michael Bay film), images become crisp and finely detailed, and the colours become subtly brighter and less faded. Charlie Chaplin may not know it yet, but he's just taken the step that will change his life, and Sven Nykvist's cinematography registers the transformation. Until now, the film hasn't been available in a home video format capable of fully presenting this transition, which registers unconsciously, unless you're looking for it. Black levels are excellent, and check out those tuxedos, and the film's grain structure appears to be intact and unreduced. Having been completed in an era before digital intermediates were standard practice, the film has been transferred from an analogue source, and close attention reveals the occasional "pulsing" instability caused by gate weave. However, this is minor and will probably not be noticed by most viewers.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – When I viewed the previous inferior NTSC DVD, I was impressed with the improvements caused by matrix-encoding the 2.0 Dolby Digital track. At the time, I didn't think CHAPLIN's soundtrack could be improved short of a discrete remix from original elements. I stand corrected. The DTS and the 2.0 track on the Blu-ray gives John Barry's haunting score an increased presence and musicality that adds to the film's emotional weight. However, I recommend playing the track through front left and right speakers only, the track tended to "bleed" into the surrounds more than I found desirable. As always with such matters, individual tastes and listening spaces will vary. Dialogue remains clear, as has generally been the case with ‘CHAPLIN.’ Surround effects are not a significant factor with this film.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: The only real Negative aspect of this excellent Blu-ray is that the extras are shown in the most ridiculous aspect, as you get this small image at the top left hand part of my flat screen Television and I don't know what idiot who produced this ludicrous nonsense and thought it was at all very clever, but to me it is totally ridiculous and I cannot understand why other peoples Reviews have NOT pointed out this ridiculous situation, as I feel it has spoiled what is otherwise an excellent film on ‘CHAPLIN' and again I don't know how LIONSGATE thought this was a professional job, in fact it was a very unprofessional crass action.
Includes 3 documentaries plus a rare home movie of Charlie Chaplin:
Special Feature: "All at Sea" home movie of Charlie Chaplin vacationing in Catalina, California [1080p] [2:27] Rare home movie footage from 1933, shot by Alistair Cooke, then a college student, on Chaplin's boat. It shows Chaplin in private moments, although it also shows how little he could resist the impulse to perform whenever a camera was on. The original footage is 4:3, but it has been pillar boxed for presentation in a 16:9 frame.
Special Feature: "Strolling into the Sunset" documentary with Director Sir Richard Attenborough [1080p] [7: 30] Contemporary interviews with Sir Richard Attenborough, Chaplin's son Michael, film critic Richard Schickel and Chaplin biographer David Robinson, whose book supplied raw material for the film, about the film's genesis and the breakthrough that Downey's casting represented. Sir Richard Attenborough is candid about what he thinks he didn't get right and says he'd like to make the film all over again.
Special Feature: "Chaplin the Hero" documentary on Charlie Chaplin's contributions to film [1080p] [6:00] A reminiscence of a great career, with a mixture of vintage clips and 'Chaplin' footage alongside numerous interview snippets.
Special Feature: "The Most Famous Man in the World" documentary on Charlie Chaplin's status as a pop icon [1080p] [5:00] A continuation of sorts of the above feature, again reminiscing about Charlie Chaplin. I don't see why this needed to be a separate feature.
Theatrical Trailer  [2:00] If you listen to the voiceover, you can hear the marketing department struggling for a hook to sell the film. "Chaaaaaarrrrrrliiiiie!"
Finally, 'CHAPLIN' isn't a perfect film, nor is it among the top biopics ever made. It is, however, the home of one of the best biopic acting performances out there. Robert Downey Jr. is a fantastic Charlie Chaplin, and watching him recreate the classic, most memorable scenes. Despite slight negative aspects of this Blu-ray, it is still an excellent film and another aspect that is wrong about this Blu-ray disc is that Amazon on both sides of the Atlantic, says that it is just one Region, well I can tell you that information is totally wrong, as it is as stated on the Back Cover that it is All Regions. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom