Chaplin (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Produced by Richard Attenborough
Mario Kassar
Screenplay by William Boyd
Bryan Forbes
William Goldman
Story by Diana Hawkins
Based on My Autobiography 
by Charles Chaplin
Chaplin: His Life and Art 
by David Robinson
Starring Robert Downey, Jr.
Marisa Tomei
Moira Kelly
Dan Aykroyd
Penelope Ann Miller
Kevin Kline
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Sven Nykvist
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • December 18, 1992 (1992-12-18) (United Kingdom)
  • December 25, 1992 (1992-12-25) (United States; limited)
  • January 8, 1993 (1993-01-08) (United States; wide)
Running time
143 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $31 million
Box office $9.4 million

Chaplin is a 1992 biographical comedy-drama film about the life of British comedian Charlie Chaplin. It was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Robert Downey, Jr., Marisa Tomei, Dan Aykroyd, Penelope Ann Miller, and Kevin Kline. It also features Geraldine Chaplin in the role of her own paternal grandmother, Hannah Chaplin.

The film was adapted by William Boyd, Bryan Forbes and William Goldman from the books My Autobiography by Chaplin and Chaplin: His Life and Art by film critic David Robinson. Associate producer Diana Hawkins got a story credit. The original music score was composed by John Barry.


The film is structured around lengthy flashbacks as the elderly Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey, Jr.) (now living in Switzerland) recollects moments from his life during a conversation with fictional character George Hayden (Anthony Hopkins), the editor of his autobiography. Chaplin's recollections begin with his childhood of extreme poverty, from which he escapes by immersing himself in the world of the London music halls, after which he relocates to the United States.

There are references to some of his many romantic episodes (including Hetty Kelly, Mildred Harris, Georgia Hale, Marion Davies, Edna Purviance, Lita Grey, Paulette Goddard, Joan Barry and Oona O'Neill), his professional collaboration with Mack Sennett and friendship with Douglas Fairbanks, and the FBI (led by J. Edgar Hoover) accusing him of Communist sympathies and forcing him to leave the United States.

The film ends with Chaplin returning to the United States to accept an Honorary Award at the 1972 Academy Awards ceremony.



Although Downey was Attenborough's first and only choice for Chaplin, TriStar and Carolco wanted either Robin Williams or Billy Crystal for the role.[1] Jim Carrey was also considered for Chaplin.[2] At one point, Peter Sellers was approached to portray the role as well.[3]


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to positive reviews. Although the film was criticized for taking dramatic licence with some aspects of Chaplin's life, Downey's performance as Chaplin won universal acclaim. Attenborough was sufficiently confident in Downey's performance to include historical footage of Chaplin himself at the end of the film.

The film was lauded for its high production values, but many critics dismissed it as an overly glossy biopic.[4] One critic wrote that the screenplay "endeavors to cover too much ground. The life of Charlie Chaplin was so vast and varied that a film is far too restrictive a format to give it justice."[5] Chaplin currently holds a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 47 reviews.


Award Category Nominee Outcome
Academy Awards Best Actor Robert Downey, Jr. Nominated
Best Original Score John Barry Nominated
Best Art Direction Stuart Craig
Chris A. Butler
BAFTA Awards Best Actor Robert Downey, Jr. Won
Best Costume Design John Mollo
Ellen Mirojnick
Best Makeup and Hair Wally Schneiderman
Jill Rockow
John Caglione, Jr.
Best Production Design Stuart Craig Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Original Score John Barry Nominated
Best Actor – Drama Robert Downey, Jr. Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Geraldine Chaplin Nominated
Moscow International Film Festival Golden St. George Richard Attenborough Nominated[6]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS in 1993 and later on DVD in 1997. A fifteenth-anniversary edition was released by Lions Gate Entertainment (who obtained the distribution rights to the film in the interim under license from the copyright holder, StudioCanal) in 2008. The anniversary edition contained extensive interviews with the producers, and included several minutes of home-movie footage shot on Chaplin's yacht. The box for this DVD mistakenly lists the film's running time as 135 minutes (it is 143 minutes, the same as the original theater release).[7]

The 15th Anniversary Edition was later released on Blu-ray in February 15, 2011.


The soundtrack to Chaplin was released on December 15, 1992.

Track listing
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Chaplin - Main Theme"   John Barry 3:06
2. "Early Days in London"   John Barry 4:18
3. "Charlie Proposes"   John Barry 3:01
4. "To California / The Cutting Room"   John Barry 3:45
5. "Discovering the Tramp / The Wedding Chase"   John Barry 4:01
6. "Chaplin's Studio Opening"   John Barry 1:58
7. "Salt Lake City Episode"   John Barry 2:11
8. "The Roll Dance"   John Barry 2:34
9. "News of Hetty's Death / Smile"   John Barry 3:42
10. "From London to L.A."   John Barry 3:21
11. "Joan Barry Trouble / Oona Arrives"   John Barry 2:15
12. "Remembering Hetty"   John Barry 2:57
13. "Smile"   John Barry 2:06
14. "The Roll Dance"   John Barry 1:47
15. "Chaplin - Main Theme / Smile"   John Barry 4:46
16. "Smile (Performed by Robert Downey, Jr.)"   John Barry 3:38
Total length:


  1. ^ Skipper, Ben (12 August 2014). "The Nearly Roles Of Robin Williams: Joker, Hagrid, The Shining, Riddler". International Business Times. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Evans, Bradford (17 March 2011). "The Lost Roles of Jim Carrey". Splitsider. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Roger (1997). The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781557832481. 
  4. ^ "Chaplin (1992) : Film". DigiGuide. Dismissed on its release by many critics as a typically fluffy paean to Chaplin ... this sumptuous biopic may have a touch too much gloss, but it's anything but bland. 
  5. ^ "Chaplin (1992)". Retrieved September 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ "18th Moscow International Film Festival (1993)". MIFF. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Combustible Celluloid film review - Chaplin (1992), Richard Attenborough, Robert Downey Jr., Moira Kelly, dvd review". October 8, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2010. 
  8. ^ Chaplin Soundtrack TheOST. Retrieved December 30, 2013

External links[edit]