The incredible story behind ‘The Immigrant’ – Charlie Chaplin’s most touching film

Celebrity
8 September 2016
by

Chaplin_Kid_Auto_RacesCharlie Chaplin. The name is synonymous with the earliest Hollywood motion pictures.

Everyone recognizes the mustache-sporting, bowler-wearing character Chaplin so frequently portrayed.

But fewer people associate Chaplin with a different description: that of an immigrant.

Let’s take a look at Sir Charles Chaplin’s rags-to-riches life and the memorable 1917 film, The Immigrant that was inspired by it.

From pauper to Prince

Charlie Chaplin lived the good life, spending weekends as the guest of top hotels and at the ultra lavish home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, aptly named Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle at San Simeon, a hillside palace with dozens of bedrooms (via sfgate.com)
Hearst Castle at San Simeon, a hillside palace with dozens of bedrooms (via sfgate.com)

But life wasn’t always golden for Charlie Chaplin.

Raised in London in the late 19th century, young Chaplin’s existence was a tapestry of turmoil and poverty, punctuated by family struggles and periods of instability.

At the age of seven, he was sent to a workhouse and housed at the Central London District School for paupers.

Chaplin (center) at the Central London District School for paupers, 1897
Chaplin (center) at the Central London District School for paupers, 1897

Teen actor, then Hollywood star

His childhood workhouse days were followed by his earliest forays in acting and comedy, ultimately leading him to America during his teenage years thanks to his vaudeville connections.

Without question, Charlie Chaplin had firsthand knowledge of the struggles that faced immigrants – and the universal feelings and emotions that could be expressed (in the case of a silent film like The Immigrant) without words.

And, because he was Charlie Chaplin, he portrayed these struggles with a comedic twist that endeared and enchanted audiences.

A scene from “The Immigrant” (via giphy.com)

It’s about time

Why, in a career that spanned decades and included dozens of films was “The Immigrant” the film that touched Chaplin “more than any film I’ve made”?

Sir Tony Robinson explores the story behind “The Immigrant” in a gripping episode of the new podcast “It’s About Time.” Tune in for the fascinating story!

Its About Time

– Samantha Johnson