09 January 2010

Though Your Heart Is Aching

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”

Those were the famous words of one of the greatest humans who ever lived on this planet. Charlie Chaplin. Born to a dysfunctional family of alcoholic father and mentally-ill mother, Chaplin survived desperate poverty in his youth to become one of the most creative and influential personalities in the world. Who would not recognize the image of The Tramp in derby hat, cutaway tailcoat, baggy pants, oversized shoes, whangee cane and moustache?

In 1936, Chaplin made what was to be his last 'silent' film Modern Times (his next movie The Great Dictator contained a scene where he actually spoke). In the film, Chaplin played a factory worker on an assembly line struggling to survive in a modern and industrialized world. Although it spoked about the Great Depression era in the 1930's, the harsh conditions and the indignation suffered by common employees in a capitalist world are the same and the message is just as significant now as it was back then.

After a series of mishaps including moving from one job after another and being arrested and jailed, the movie ended showing the Chaplin character and the gamine (played by Paulette Goddard) walking down the road, uncertain of their future but yet hopeful that everything will be just fine. The accompanying music in that final scene was later recorded as a song called Smile sung by Nat King Cole.

Sometimes when I look at Mr. B. and what he goes through working in the Funny Farm, I envision him as The Tramp himself - an awkward but good-hearted character who behaves with the manners and dignity of a gentleman despite his the desperate condition at work. As I watch him wobbles out of the house in the morning and wobbles in at night complaining about his day, I hope that he can see that however tragic life may seem to be from up-close, it is quite funny if only one steps back and sees it with a hopeful heart from a distance.


steveny said...

i like charlie chaplin too. he inspired a whole generation to laugh. you make me smile too becker.

Anonymous said...

Dear Becker,
Mr.B inspired me at the farm. I always see human dignity from observing his behaves. I hope he found happiness in his daily life. and I am sure you bears bring him warmness everynight, like people wear my wool to get warm. ^^

Becker said...

dear sheepmm, thank you for your wonderful thoughts. i will make sure to keep him warm and happy.

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