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The Kid
dir. Charles Chaplin / USA 1921 / 50’
subtitles: Polish


Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance, Carl Miller

Film description

Fittingly for the ultimate classic, audiences have continued to enjoy The Kid the same way for the last century. The relationship between the tramp and titular street kid is still a tear-jerker, the scenes of comedy (e.g. where the kid breaks windows so his father can install new ones) evoke salvos of laughter, and the drama (enter social worker) remains forceful. I watched the latter with some trepidation, expecting the melodramatic gestures and old-hat acting to be trite. Nothing of the sort! The truth of genuine emotion never goes out of date and the exceptional Jackie Coogan is the protoplast of all future child actors in American and world cinema.

The social critique, no less important in Chaplin’s films than their entertainment aspect, also continues its relevance. The story of a socially outcast mother that abandons her child in despair is a protest against the treatment of women, public hypocrisy, and male egoism. Another unfortunate eternal truth is bureaucratic inanity and violence of law visited especially upon those who, like the tramp, have only determination and cunning on their side.

Chaplin’s films are not relics from the past; they continue reminding us the world is not a place of justice, where fairness and happy endings often found only in the movies.

Bartosz Żurawiecki

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