The Mark Kermode Radio 3 programme Chaplin, Celebrity and Modernism was excellent. It pursued the thesis of Chaplin as subversive everyman, beloved by not just by cinema audiences, but by modernists, Dadaists, surrealists, politicians, writers and fellow filmmakers. Kermode admitted that, in common with many modern critics, he had dismissed Chaplin as a sentimentalist, inferior as a film artist to Buster Keaton. Instead, he discovered Chaplin’s essential role as a figure (there was much emphasis on his body) of modernism. You got a real sense of a need to rediscover Chaplin as one of the key figures of the twentieth-century, given all that he meant to society and the worldwide broadcasting of images and ideas. That said, Chaplin is an everyman figure no more, despite his image being used in advertising around the world. So our everymen change, and that is part of his significance too.
Contributions from David Robinson, Mike Hammond, Tom Gunning, David Thomson, Michael Chaplin, Geraldine Chaplin and comedian Mark Steel. It will remain available online for the next week through the Listen Again service. Don’t miss it.