Sunday, October 21, 2012

Charlie Chaplin | Derek Miller

Above In a class about designing digital images, I asked my students to invent "interpretive portraits" of extraordinary men or women from the past, sung or unsung. I didn't know who they would choose, since our generations are increasingly familiar with vastly different views of the past, the present and the future. Most of the time, I don't think they get my jokes (these days, even my obvious humor is dry), and, likewise, I sometimes don't have a clue about what they're alluding to. So, it is reassuring when someone in the class chooses a subject, in this case the British-born American film comedian Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), whom we both know and admire. This zingy and fittingly colorful portrait of Chaplin was designed by Derek Miller.


Robert Hatch, in the Reporter (November 25, 1939)—

There were two sides to Charlie [Chaplin's film character], as there are to most clowns. The first was Charlie the fantastic cock of the walk who kidded our sacred institutions ans solemn paraphernalia with merciless acumen. He kept a slop bucket in a safe and investigated a clock with a can opener. He slapped bankers on the back, and pinched a pretty cheek when he saw one. He had nothing but wit, grace, and agility with which to oppose the awful strength of custom and authority, but his weapons were a good deal more than sufficient.

The other Charlie was a beggar for sympathy and an apostle of pity. He pitied everything that stumbled or whimpered or wagged a tail, particularly he pitied himself. There has never been a portrait of self-pity so vivid or so shocking as Charlie with a rose in his hand.