Festival Charlie Chaplin
The Kid is perhaps Chaplin’s most potent marriage of comedy and high emotion. The story relates how an unmarried mother abandons a baby, which is found and unwillingly adopted by the Tramp. As the child matures to five or six years old, the two form a profitable business partnership: the boy goes round breaking windows, and his friend follows, earning an honest living by mending them again. The Tramp ferociously opposes the efforts of social workers to take the boy into public care, and finally he is reunited with his mother, now a successful opera singer. The emotional element of the film reaches a peak of poignancy in the scenes where the social workers try to take the boy away to an orphanage. The anguish and ferocity of the Tramp’s fight to keep him are unquestionably inspired by memories of Chaplin’s own childhood heartbreak at being taken from his mother at seven years old and placed in a home for destitute children.
Fifty years after the film's release, Chaplin is re-releasing The Kid and composing the music, which he is supervising the recording of. We marvel that an artist who was already a scriptwriter, editor, director and actor was also a composer. But is it so surprising that a man whose very approach is a dance step and whose every scene is a form of choreography should also have been a musician? A self-taught pianist and violinist, he certainly called on the help of Eric James and Eric Rogers, professional musicians, to write his scores and orchestrate his compositions, but film historian Jeffrey Vance assures us that "not a single note was placed without his agreement". In this way, the music becomes an integral part of the story and sheds additional light on it: far from underlining what the image already shows, it gives consistency to the characters' experiences. The warmth of the home has its theme, the abandonment of the mother has its own, which becomes a real heartbreak when the story takes a dramatic turn. It is the music that, while the humour continues, connects us to the truly tragic aspect of the story: in a way, in rare moments, it contradicts the image by indicating the true tenor of the situation.
The Kid © Roy Export S.A.S.
Music from The Kid © Roy Export Co. Ltd. & Bourne Co. All rights reserved.