Sand Flea Press | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've never seen any of these films look more beautiful, and the packaging and extras are excellent! "The Gold Rush" is especially desirable as, previously, we have had to choose between the official release of the "sound" version with Chaplin's distracting narration and very uneven releases of the PD silent version. Here we have both the sound version (interesting as Chaplin's last word on the piece) and the artistically superior silent version, restored by Brownlow! "Modern Times" is a gorgeous restoration of a universally accessible masterpiece (here Chaplin has his cake and eats it too, working his social satire in seamlessly with comedy and character), and includes many amusing extras, including a few cut scenes, a clip of Liberace performing "Smile" (!), and "Por Primera Vez," a 1960s documentary on a travelling theatre, which sets up in a remote Mexican village where most of the inhabitants have never seen a motion picture and screens, yes, "Modern Times" to an enthusiastic audience. "The Great Dictator" is often hilarious (especially the scenes with Jack Oakie) and if the message gets in the way of the art at times, this can be easily forgiven considering the importance of the message. "The Great Dictator" includes the excellent TCM documentary, "The Tramp and the Dictator," much superior to the documentaries on the other discs, as well as Sydney Chaplin's color home movies of the production. The best thing I can say about "Limelight" is that at least Buster Keaton appears (briefly) and at least Chaplin doesn't actually preach (even if he does weep, smirk, and philosophize to trying lengths; I have often thought that Chaplin put off speaking so long because he had a feeling that, if he once started, he would be unable to bring himself to shut up). Still, "Limelight" is (at a bare minimum) of great historic interest, and, if you buy the set, you can consider it as being thrown in for free, so there's no reason not to. This set is required viewing for human beings."
SILENCE IS GOLDEN IN THIS STUNNING BOX SET
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 10/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Without a doubt, Charlie Chaplin is the reigning king of silent comedy. His impeccibly limber gesturing, sense of timing and evocative facial features have made him a landmark artist, a masterful film maker and one of the greatest talents to ever grace the silver screen. What more can be said; does it get any better than the little tramp?!? And now, Warner Home Video proves that it does, indeed get better; a lot, lot better. Having had to contend with poorly transferred, badly worn VHS and primative bootlegged DVD copies for years, the home video audience at last gets to witness Charlie in his best video incarnation ever! This box set features four classics from the Chaplin legacy; Modern Times, The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator and Limelight. In each case, Chaplin illustrates the art of making movies as no one before or since. Great fun!
THE TRANSFER: No expense has been spared in making each film sparkle as never before. The gray scale is incredibly rich and beautifully balanced. Blacks are deep. Contrast levels show off Charlie's make up. Fine detail is gloriously realized. Minor edge enhancement and some pixelization do occur but nothing to distract or even hint that anything but absolute care has been taken to make these films look as good as they possibly can. Almost all age related artifacts are gone. Truly, I can't say enough to recommend these transfers. The audio is mono and nicely balanced.
EXTRAS: Each disc comes with a brief featurette on Chaplin's legacy and some interesting supplimental extras including outtakes in some cases and interviews in others.
BOTTOM LINE: No more to be said: don't walk - RUN to your nearest video retailer and make the Chaplin Collection a part of your home video library!"
My grandfather would be proud...
Sloopydrew | USA | 08/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My grandfather, as big a Chaplin fan as they came, never got over the narrated version of The Gold Rush. It wasn't the narration that bothered him as much as the way that "they had to change the ending." A romantic at heart, he missed the original's softer closing. Every time the film aired on television or was re-released at the theater, he looked for the silent version with the original ending. He never found it. The re-release seemed to be a constant thorn in his side. Sort of like the 1940's version of Greedo shooting first. I hope my grandpa is looking down from above, because the original version of the film is included in this standout DVD collection. If you liked Charlie's light-hearted narration, that version's here too (I think both versions are great). And so are four beautifully restored Charlie Chaplin films. The hilarious Modern Times. The controversial The Great Dictator (Chaplin's first "talkie"). The oftentimes overlooked -- and underrated -- Limelight. And quite possibly the most well-liked film of Chaplin's career, The Gold Rush. There aren't as many outtakes as a Chaplin fan would want, but that's because most were lost or destroyed. The outtakes that are included are as fun as the "little fellow" himself. I'm guessing the films look nearly as good as they did when they were first projected onto the gigantic movie house screens of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This collection takes you back to the early days of film and reminds you that when most were taking baby steps, Mr. Chaplin was moving cinematic storytelling ahead by leaps and bounds. My grandfather would be proud."
Four of the best
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 08/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Four movies. Three comedies and one drama. These are not merely four of Charlie Chaplin's greatest films; they are four of the greatest films of all time. They're funny, they're sad, but most of all they're passionate. Chaplin has often been criticized for putting too much sentimentality into his films, and it's a fair complaint. But for my money, no one did it as successfully as Chaplin.
The four films in this collection represent a sizable range. The comedy is astonishing, of course, but so is the amount of emotion. Watching them all in a short space of time really highlights Chaplin's strengths as a director. I love the way he lets people's faces tell the story; no overuse of dialog cards is required. Look at the scene in MODERN TIMES where the unemployed father wonders how he will feed his children. The camera lingers on his face, which tells everything. Or look at the New Year's Eve sequence in GOLD RUSH where the lonely tramp gazes upon the happy expressions of the partygoers. It's touching and is played flawlessly.
One of the great things about this set is that three out of four of the movies contain, if not outright sound, a synchronized soundtrack (and even THE GOLD RUSH contains a "sound" version that Chaplin dubbed for the 1942 re-release). Speech isn't the thing to note here -- it's the music. Chaplin's musical abilities are often forgotten about in lieu of his acting/pantomiming, writing and directing skills. But just listen to the soundtrack to something like MODERN TIMES. It's catchy, funny, and fits each scene perfectly. Wonderful.
Each of these four movies has been restored so the picture and sound quality are excellent. Out of this set, the big revelation for me was seeing the original version of THE GOLD RUSH for the first time uncut and with the picture in decent shape. Jokes that I had missed before were suddenly revealed, and I got to appreciate some gags that the previous poor picture quality had hidden.
The DVD extras are fantastic (each individual movie also comes with an entire second disc with nothing but special features). Deleted scenes are included, as are theatrical trailers (most of which are from later re-releases of the films). But the best features are the mini-documentaries included with each movie. They're quite good managing to maintain a good balance between interview footage and modern interpretation.
This set is invaluable for Chaplin fans. Chaplin was a genius of filmmaking and his movies finally have the release that they deserve. I'm now eagerly looking forward to delving through the second box set in this Chaplin DVD series, and I can only hope that it's as brilliant as this one is."
You can't do the impossible...
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 08/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although this set tries to do the impossible, it cannot. But it is a very good collection of Chaplin films.
So, to start with, let me cover what is great in this set.
First, the films are as clearly presented as possible, with great sound, pretty good mastering, and good clarity of image. The speed of projection, a subjective topic at best, is quite carefully handled, and seems to be quite good for the most part. (This only affects the silent Gold Rush, btw.)
The restoration of the original silent Gold Rush is excellent, and a welcome addition to the canon. I don't bother arguing over which version is better, silent or sound, because they both exist in our world and such arguments end up amounting to mere preferences.
Which brings me to the first impossibility. It is IMPOSSIBLE to present a "definitive" version of most any Chaplin film, due to the cuts and changes he made in them over the years, and the variation in the editions originally issued. In addition, there are some bits from the original release which simply don't exist in a quality comparable to the quality of the current versions, and which could not be edited in without comprimising the quality.
The Chaplin family made a decision, and stuck to it. They decided to issue the films in the final approved versions, with cuts intact. They also decided to include all cuts as additional material, so that we don't lose what was taken out. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but sometimes a decision must simply be made and stuck with, and the Chaplin family went with this. Not everybody will be satisfied, but the choice has been made.
The additional materials are often good, but equally often pointless. The good stuff includes the Great Dictator documentary, lots of home movies and still, and various sequences from older films that are relevent to the title. The bad stuff includes the truly boring "Chaplin Today" documentaries, which are a great example of material trying to prove a point but instead shooting itself in the foot. I regard these documentaries as another example of doing the impossible - by trying to argue that Chaplin is relevent today (and I think he is), the directors end up proving otherwise. Some things can't be won through argument, but only through experience.
One troubling aspect of this set is that, instead of tranferring the movies fresh from film to NTSC video, the films were transferred from film to PAL video, and then converted. This changes film speed a bit, and introduces unavoidable artifacts and degrades the video quality. While not as bad as the HORRENDOUS "Phantom of the Opera" fiasco, it's a shame that we cannot see these films in their top quality without getting imported dvds from overseas in the original PAL format.
That all said, we have here four (or five) Chaplin films in possibly the best quality possible in a neat package with lots of goodies. There are plenty of quibbles with this set and it's companion, but the fact is that this is as good as it might ever get, until an even better format comes along. The films are wonderful, and it's nice to have a good edition of them again."