Chaplin, Metastasis

The Permanent Gene

 | Editorial |

  BY Anuj Malhotra

It's been a hundred years since Chaplin discovered the cinema at the auto races. For half a century after this, he appeared, at first frequently, and then after longer spells of time, to remind cinema of itself, of its own purpose, holding up a mirror to the screen (and therefore, to the world) for it to look at itself and introspect. Like conscience, the most relentless of human qualities, Chaplin would resurrect just when one thought he has finally been rid of. 

He was human and he retired too, but before he did, Chaplin's spirit had forever infected the strain of cinema history, causing permanent mutation that would ensure that each successive birth of cinema would only exist in his image, as a version of Chaplin's films.

At Projectorhead, we have attempted to create a very brief compilation of such visible inheritances: film directors or actors who embraced this lineage or rejected it (since rejection first involves a conscious acceptance) and occurrences of Chaplin's influence in their work. We wrote to thirty-eight critics, filmmakers and cine-enthusiasts to participate in the project - twelve responded, the work of seven exists in the final issue. Also resident within the set are original essays/roundtables on two significant titles from Chaplin's late-career: Monsieur Verdoux (1948) and A King in New York (1957). There are also reproductions of texts from famous magazines no longer in circulation, one an overview of Chaplin's conduct of comedy as a perpetual outsider, the second a historical account of the immediate aftermath of the production of Monsieur Verdoux. Lastly, a brief set of notes on very specific aspects of Chaplin's cinema: his awareness of his mythological status, his work with children and the peculiar tone he attains with the ending of his most famous film.