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Circus, The
(Circus, The)

THE CIRCUS is Charlie Chaplin’s last silent-film. It is a masterpiece full of sensitivity and poetry, grotesque cleverness, marvellous ideas and clear and sharp pictures. At times, it appears as though Charlie has grown tired of the world, yet as soon as he presses forbidden buttons and frees the birds, pigs, rabbits and balloons, his face lights up in utter happiness.


“In the late 1960s, after the years spent trying to forget it, Chaplin returned to The Circus, to re-release it with a new musical score of his own composition. He even composed a theme song, “Swing Little Girl”, to be sung over the titles. A professional vocalist was engaged, but the musical director, Eric James, recognised that Chaplin himself sang the song much better. So he was persuaded, at the age of 79, to record the song. It seemed to symbolize his reconciliation to the film which cost him so much stress.” (David Robinson) The orchestral music in the style of vaudeville reflects Charlie Chaplin's biographical background - his upbringing in the world of circus and variety shows. „There are subtle but distinct differences in the way he approached each circus act. For the girl acrobat the music is always lively march while the clowns perform their gags to squatty soft-shoe numbers. In the climatic scene, the tramp performs his high-wire act to a light waltz, incognizant of the fact that he is in perilous danger. Each of these “public” scenes carry a certain amount of counterbalance with the backstage drama that is unfolding between the characters, and therefore Chaplin composed music that incorporated all of these elements in its structure.“ (Timothy Brock)

Charlie the tramp is hired to work in a circus where he falls in love with the girl of his dreams. He promptly gets chased by the police who mistakes him for a thief. Whilst evading them, he accidentally runs into the circus’ bigtop during the show. The crowd assumes this is part of the act and roars with laughter at his hilarious efforts to escape the police. Charlie is immediately hired by the circus owner, yet is unable to be funny on cue. The owner decides to make him a janitor, hence taking advantage of Charlie as he works in the bigtop at showtime by happenstance. Unaware of his exploitation, the Tramp falls in love with the circus owner’s daughter. Initially, his chances appear good until a dashing rival stands in his way…


Charles Chaplin

1969 reconstructed by Timothy Brock (2003)
  small orchestra (16 - 45 Musicians)    
1+picc.1.2/altosax+1/tenorsax.1 - - 2perc.pno.guit/mandoline - strings ( or or instruments percussion: timpani, bass drum, snare drum, woodblocks, glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone)
sync fps