«Limelight» by Charlie Chaplin
“there’s something just as inevitable as death, and that’s life.”
Limelight is a film written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin, based on a novella written by Chaplin entitled “Footlights”
It can be considered Chaplin’s most personal film, and his farawell, even if it is not his last film.
Today it is considered a cult following and one of Chaplin’s best works, but it was heavily boicotted in the USA and commercially failed.
It was re-released in the USA in 1972, decades after, and was in contention for the 45th Academy Awards.
That year, Chaplin won the Oscar.
In this production, Chaplin plays Calvero, a clown who was once the most famous of the world, but now has been forgotten, and no one is interested in his art anymore.
Even if he is going through a hard time, he is not bitter, and still appreciate his life, even if it’s hard.
Through this character, Chaplin faces his own failures, and comes to term with his personal life.
Even if Calvero is a washed-up drunk, he is a daydreamer, an optimist, he still believes in his dreams and is passionate about life: he is aware of the gift that life is, the luck that we have, and that’s why he saves Terry from suicide, a young ballet dancer, and nurse her in order to bring her back to a stage career and to give her back the will to live.
By helping Terry regaining her self-esteem, he regains his own one, and eventually, he will refuse the proposal of the girl, in order to give her a chance to be with Neville, a young composer who Calvero thinks would be better suited to her.
Calvero then leaves home, and works as a street entertainer.
He doesn’t miss the Limelight, he doesnt need an audience, his daydreams of a stage performance are enough for him, and give meaning to his passion.
When Terry manages to find him, she brings him back to the stage for a benefit concert, and he gives a marvelous performance.
In the end, he suffers from a heart attack and dies, while watching Terry dancing on the stage, happy.
This powerful ending, can be considered an expression of Chaplin’s belief that if all things must end, then at least they should end gracefully.
The character of Calvero teaches us to carry on, to appreciate what we have, to try again, to not to give up and with a beautiful speech, one of Chaplin’s most famous ones, he reminds us how grateful we should be, just for being here, alive.
As he said, “Life can be wonderful, if you’re not afraid of it”.
Terry: What is there to fight for?
Calvero: Ah you see, you admit it. What is there to fight for? Everything. Life itself, isn’t that enough, to be lived, suffered, enjoyed. What is there to fight for? Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish. Besides, you have your art, your dancing.
Terry: I can’t dance without legs.
Calvero: I know a man without arms who can play a scherzo on a violin and does it all with his toes. The trouble is you won’t fight. You’ve given in, continually dwelling on sickness and death. But there’s something just as inevitable as death, and that’s life. Life, life, life. Think of all the power that’s in the universe, moving the earth, growing the trees. That’s the same power within you if you only have courage and the will to use it.