Charlie Chaplin is known as an extraordinary performer and considered a universal icon. Being a towering personality in world culture, he has received numerous recognitions and awards, but he also endured his fair share of criticisms and controversies.
The film industry recognizes Chaplin as a pioneer and one of the most influential people of the 20th century for the joy he brought to millions of people. The actor is often credited as one of cinema’s first artists, and film historians claim that he was important to the evolution of comedy, just as D.W. Griffith was to drama.
Charlie Chaplin was the front-runner in popularizing feature-length comedy and retard the pace of action, adding subtlety and pathos to it. Even though Chaplin’s work is mainly categorized as slapstick, his drama A Woman of Paris (1923) significantly influenced The Marriage Circle (1924), a film by Ernst Lubitsch, and thus played a role in the development of sophisticated comedy.
Chaplin’s innovations were quickly assimilated to be part of the standard practice of film craft. The filmmakers who cited Charlie Chaplin as an influence include François Truffaut, Billy Wilder, Jacques Tati, Richard Attenborough, Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Michael Powell, and René Clair. In addition, Andrei Tarkovsky, a Russian filmmaker, sang praises for Chaplin, saying he’s “the only person to have gone down into cinematic history without any shadow of a doubt. The films he left behind can never grow old.” An Indian filmmaker named Satyajit Ray also spoke about Chaplin, “If there is any name which can be said to symbolize cinema—it is Charlie Chaplin… I am sure Chaplin’s name will survive even if the cinema ceases to exist as a medium of artistic expression. Chaplin is truly immortal.” To add, Jean Renoir, a French auteur, said Chaplin was his favorite filmmaker.
Chaplin was also a strong influence in the works of succeeding comedians. For example, actor Raj Kapoor’s on-screen persona was based on the Tramp, while Marcel Marceau claimed to be inspired by Chaplin to be a mime artist after watching him. In addition, Mark Cousins has recognized the comedic style of Chaplin in the Italian character Totò and French character Monsieur Hulot.
In other areas, Chaplin aid in inspiring the cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat. The actor also influenced the Dada art movement. Being one of the United Artists’ founders, Chaplin also had a part in the film industry’s development.
Awards and Recognitions
Chaplin has received multiple recognitions and awards, especially later in life.
- In 1992, Chaplin was ranked at no. 5 in Sight & Sound Critics’ Top Ten Poll list of the “Top 10 Directors” of all time.
- Several of Chaplin’s works are still regarded in the 21st century as classics among the greatest films ever made.
- In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll that compiles the top ten ballots from directors and film critics, determining every group’s most acclaimed works, critics ranked City Lights among their top 50, Modern times in the top 100, and The Gold Rush and The Great Dictator inside the top 250.
- Modern times ranked 22 in the top 100 films voted on by directors, while City Lights placed 30, and The Gold Rush at 91. All of Chaplin’s features earned a vote.
- Charlie Chaplin was also ranked 35 on Empire magazine’s 2005 list of the “Top 40 Greatest Directors of All-Time.”
- In 2007, City Lights was named by the American Film Institute as the 11th greatest American film in history, while Modern Times and The Gold Rush ranked in the top 100.
- Books about Chaplin keep being published periodically, and he is a favorite subject for film archivists and media scholars.
- Multiple films by Chaplin have had Blu-ray and DVD releases.
- Chaplin was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1975 New Year Honours.
- In 1962, the University of Durham and the University of Oxford awarded Chaplin with honorary Doctor of Letters degrees.
- Chaplin, along with Ingmar Bergman, were joint winners of the Erasmus Prize in 1965.
- The French government appointed Chaplin in 1971 as a Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour.
- In 1972, Chaplin received a special Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival from the film industry.
- Later, in the same year, he also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lincoln Center Film Society, which has since been given to filmmakers annually as The Chaplin Award.
- In 1972, after being previously excluded due to his political beliefs, Chaplin was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- He received three Academy Awards: an Honorary Award in 1929 for “versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing, and producing The Circus,” a second Honorary Award in 1972 for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century,” and a Best Score award for Limelight (shared with Ray Rasch and Larry Russell) in 1973.
- Chaplin was nominated in the Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture (as producer), and Best Actor categories for The Great Dictator.
- Chaplin also received another nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for Monsieur Verdoux.
- Chaplin was appointed a Fellow of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 1976.
- The United States Library of Congress selected six of Chaplin’s films for preservation in the National Film Registry: The Immigrant (1917), The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), and The Great Dictator (1940).