My recent visit to Chaplin’s World in Corsier sur Vevey, Switzerland left me feeling starstruck. Chaplin’s World, opened in April 2016, consists of both a museum dedicated to Chaplin and his personal home – Le Manoir de Ban – in which he spent the final years of his life.
The museum is extraordinarily organized, inviting, and interactive. After watching a ten minute introductory film on Chaplin, the guests begin weaving their way through informative panels, excerpts from films, and Grévin wax figures. I really didn’t expect to run into Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, Sophia Loren, Oona O’neill, Buster Keaton, Roberto Benigni, Federico Fellini Paulette Godard, Winston Churchill, The Tramp, and multiple Charlie Chaplins! Guests are welcome to interact with small staged sets from Chaplin movies and take pictures.
Frequent chuckles and occasional fits of laughter from guests as they watch a movie excerpt testify to the pleasant and amusing atmosphere that accompanies the museum visit. Besides being extremely entertaining, however, the museum is immensely insightful.
Did you know that Chaplin wrote, played in, directed, and produced his own films? I certainly didn’t. His particular work ethic of involvement in each step of production is a trait I find admirable and impressive.
Furthermore, his movies starring his famous character The Tramp are deeper than a surface level silent comedy. They communicate political and social messages pertinent to the contemporary issues of the time. Modern Times comments on the changing of the industrial, modernized world and the struggles of the Great Depression. The Great Dictator, in which Chaplin plays the roles of a fascist dictator and a Jewish barber, condemns Hitler, Mussolini, and anti-semitism.
I sincerely marvel at Chaplin’s talent; he was able to create a harmonious melange within films, which were charged with heavy sociopolitical subjects, yet laugh-out-loud hilarious.
After visiting the museum, I watched my first full length Chaplin film, The Gold Rush: I laughed uncontrollably. Laughing alone is a difficult thing to achieve, and a film capable of bringing me to do so is a confirmation of true quality. It is special to laugh alone, not out of social convention, but out of genuine amusement. You’re a wizard, Chaplin!
If you get the chance, I strongly recommend you pay Chaplin’s World a visit.