Actors: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Format: Full Screen, NTSC, Restored, Special Edition, Subtitled
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Run Time: 52 minutes
If it were possibly to adequately convey emotion on page as they are within our living flesh, I would have pages upon pages to pour out for Charlie Chaplin’s crucial classic, The Kid. This was the vaudeville performer’s transition from short films to features, but it also conveyed his signature ability to combine pathos with humor, blending the melodrama of a ‘woman’s pictures’ with the silliness of ‘slapstick.’ But The Kid is much more than historically relevant; it also carries deep personal significance for me.
I honestly don’t even remember the first time I saw The Kid, but it was a defining experience in my movie-loving career. I had enjoyed the slightly mischievous slapstick humor of Chaplin’s shorts, but in this lengthier film I found myself moved by the relationship between father and adopted son. I must have been around 10-years-old, the first time I watched The Kid. Ever since that early addiction, few filmmakers or movie characters have come close to meaning as much to me as Charlie Chaplin and his Little Tramp persona.
The Tramp was already well established for film audiences, though he was given a new curveball in the narrative of The Kid. After a series of unfortunate events brings an abandoned baby to an alley near his humble abode, The Tramp stumbles upon the child. After comically attempting to pass the responsibility onto others around him, our reluctant hero takes the child in as his own. Five years later the young boy (played by Jackie Coogan) and The Tramp have made a simple but effective life for themselves, until a series of events threaten to separate them.
This beloved classic has been brought to Blu-ray with painstaking attention to detail, including a new 4K digital restoration of the film from the 1972 rerelease cut of the film and Charlie Chaplin’s original film score in uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Along with a spectacularly well restored presentation of the 1921 film, there is also an assortment of extras. This includes a new audio commentary featuring Chaplin historian Charles Maland, as well as a new video essay from another Chaplin historian, Lisa Haven. Also included are a handful of deleted scenes, many of which were removed by Chaplin in order to keep the film’s focus on the relationship between The Tramp and his adopted child.
Other additional material includes newsreel footage and a 1922 silent short which appears to simply be a side project made amongst friends. The short includes an appearance from both Chaplin and Coogan, with a new score from composer Timothy Brock. This is only the beginning of the special features, with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and a featurette about the film effect of undercranking which created unique effects in Chaplin’s film. There is also an insert with a written essay from film scholar Tom Gunning.
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 10/10
Historical Significance: 10/10