The Chaplin Collection: Limelight Charles Chaplin

A nostalgic look at the life of a bygone success — a "Tramp comedian," in fact — is the focus of this, Charles Chaplin's second-last film and his most autobiographical in a career of personally-oriented filmmaking choices. "The story of a ballerina and a clown," it concerns the waning years of the Great Cavalero and a young ballerina whom he assists to get her own burgeoning career off the ground, passing her a metaphorical creative torch. Half a century on, the film plays a little like listening to a rambling grandparent tell the kids about the good ol' days, but in the context of Chaplin's career — one that's nicely fleshed out on this two-disc DVD — Limelight is an interesting final chapter. Having been essentially run out of the United States in the late 1940s due to so-called Communist sympathies, Chaplin was devastated that his reign as America's favourite adopted son was over. As usual, he wrote as well as directed and produced, and the sting of this slap from the land he'd conquered clearly went deep. (Interesting note: he also wrote the music, as he did for all his "talking" pictures, and received an Academy Award for Limelight's score. It was the only competitive Oscar he would ever receive.) The DVD extras, from the career-perspective introduction by biographer David Robinson to the "Chaplin Today" featurette, with an assist from Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, all nostalgically examine Chaplin's film. These DVDs, as usual, go deeper than you even want to go — colour, silent home movies shot in 1950 and 1959 might be a little too intimate for most. Then again, to those unfamiliar with his life, the same might be said for Limelight. Extras: "Chaplin Today" featurette; "Introduction" by David Robinson; deleted scene; original score; excerpts from the film's source novel, never published, written by Chaplin; "The Professor" 1919 short; home movies; photo gallery. (MK2 Editions/Warner)