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The Tramp and an abandoned child triumph over life's hard knocks in the landmark film that changed the notion of what a screen comedy could be.
For more about The Kid and The Kid Blu-ray release, see The Kid Blu-ray Review
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan
Director: Charles Chaplin
» See full cast & crew
The Kid Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 2, 2010
Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" (1921) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Park Circus. The supplemental features on the disc include a short introduction by Chaplin biographer David Robinson; the documentary feature "Chaplin Today: The Kid"; deleted scenes; the silent short "Nice And Friendly" (1922); photo gallery; trailer reel; and more. Region-B "locked".
Charlie Chaplin struggled enormously when he made The Kid. At the time he had compromised himself in a highly publicized relationship with 17-year-old actress Mildred Harris, and was experiencing a creative block, arguably one of the worst in his career. The couple married in 1918, and, in 1919, Harris gave birth to a boy who lived only three days. Chaplin was devastated.
Nevertheless, Chaplin immediately went back to work. He began preparation for a film titled The Waif, in which the Tramp would adopt a child. At the same time, while attending a musical, Chaplin met the young Jackie Coogan, who would become the star of The Kid.
In The Kid, a disillusioned mother (Edna Purviance) decides to commit suicide. She leaves her newly born child in an expensive car with a note urging those who find it to take good care of it; then, she heads to a nearby park. Two men steal the car and discover the child. They leave the child next to a garbage can and run away. The Tramp (Chaplin) discovers the child and decides to keep it.
Five years later, the Tramp and the kid (Coogan) have formed a profitable union – the kid breaks windows, the Tramp mends them. One day, a cop (Tom Wilson) figures out what the two are up to and trouble ensues.
Meanwhile, the mother of the kid has become a successful opera singer. Full of remorse, she is determined to discover the child she once abandoned. While wandering around the city, the mother witnesses a brawl, in which a poorly dressed man, the Tramp, encourages a beautiful kid to fight.
The kid gets sick and the Tramp asks a doctor (Jules Hanft) to examine him. Before he leaves, the doctor asks the Tramp if he is the father of the kid. The Tramp shows him the note he found when he discovered the kid. The doctor takes the note and later on accidentally shows it to the kid's mother.
Representatives of the County Orphanage Asylum arrive and attempt to take the kid from the Tramp. A policeman - and it is the same one who has already seen the kid and the Tramp working the streets - also appears. A fight ensues, and the County Orphanage Asylum representatives take the kid away from the Tramp. He follows them and jumps in their truck. Shortly after, the Tramp runs away with the kid.
The Tramp and the kid decide to spend the night in a fleabag hotel. While reading his newspaper, the owner (Henry Bergman) notices that there is a hefty reward for the kid. While the Tramp is asleep, he takes the kid and runs to the Police. On the following morning, the kid is reunited with his mother.
The Tramp returns home. He is devastated. He falls asleep and dreams of being in Heaven where angels are everywhere. A few teach him how to fly. The Devil (Jack Coogan Sr.) sees the Tramp and decides to play a trick on him. He tells a beautiful angel (Lita Grey) to vamp him. When she begins flirting with the Tramp, her jealous boyfriend arrives (Charles Reisner), ready to deal with him. Before things get messy, a policeman appears…and wakes up the Tramp.
Chaplin's most personal and arguably his most beloved film, The Kid is the one and only of his films in which he has a formidable partner. Coogan and his mimicking are often as good, if not better, as Chaplin's.
In The Kid, Chaplin blends comedy and drama to perfection. Many of the film's funniest scenes, such as the one where the Tramp challenges the representatives of the County Orphanage Asylum, are also its saddest ones. Additionally, there is something enormously poignant about the manner in which the Tramp and the kid communicate with each other; their emotions and feelings feel pure and real.
The Kid Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Charlie Chaplin's The Kid arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Park Circus.
There are some good and some not so good news about this high-definition transfer.
The good news is that The Kid looks surprisingly fresh for a film of its age. There are occasional scratches, marks, and cuts that pop up here and there, but, generally speaking, the film looks healthy and stable. Detail is also substantially stronger than what I expected it to be.
The relatively bad news is that there are traces of minor filtering throughout the entire film. Additionally, there is extra sharpening that has been applied - hence the edge-enhancement that is easy to see during many of the outdoor scenes. On smaller than 50' screens the effect is not overly distracting, but on larger screens, it often is. On the positive side, the are a variety of different blacks and whites that look notably healthy, especially during the darker, indoor scenes.
The back cover of this Blu-ray release states that The Kid runs at approximately 60 minutes. The version of the film found on this disc runs at exactly 52:48 minutes.
I don't know whether or not The Kid would surface on Blu-ray in the U.S. If it does, and if it is Criterion that release it, I assume that it would probably look different. I have a feeling that it would look slightly darker, with adjusted sharpness levels, and grainier.
(Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Kid Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 (Dual Mono). Obviously, the film contains English intertitles.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds terrific. It has an excellent dynamic amplitude that allows the orchestral score to shine. The strings, in particular, sound outstanding. The winds, and specifically the clarinets, and brass are also a lot more prominent on the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track than they are on the LPCM 2.0 track. Of course, this is not to say that the LPCM 2.0 track is inferior. In fact, there are scenes in The Kid that I felt work better with the condensed and slightly less fluid LPCM 2.0 track. So, my advice is, experiment with both, and see which one you prefer. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hiss to report in this review.
The Kid Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features are placed on a separate SDVD. They are encoded in PAL.
Introduction by David Robinson - a short introduction to The Kid by the Chaplin biographer in which he quickly notes a few interesting facts from the film's fascinating history. In English, not subtitled. (6 min).
Chaplin Today: The Kid - a wonderful documentary feature focusing on Chaplin's unique relationship with Jackie Coogan as well as his work on The Kid. The documentary also includes a great commentary by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. In English, not subtitled. (27 min).
Deleted scenes - three scenes that were deleted in 1971. (6 min).
Recording the new score - a short segment with the aged Chaplin conducting the new score for The Kid. (2 min).
Jackie Coogan dances (1920) - a short segment in which the young actor who would play the kid in Chaplin's film dances in front of the film's sponsors. (2 min).
Nice And Friendly (1922) - a silent short, starring Chaplin and Coogan, dedicated to Lord and Lady Mountbatten. (11 min).
Photo gallery - a collection of stills from the film.
Trailer reel - trailers for The Kid, A Woman in Paris, The Gold Rush, City Lights, The Circus, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, Limelight, A King in New York, etc.
The Kid Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am very excited to see British distributors Park Circus releasing on Blu-ray. They have a tremendous catalog, and I have to assume that serious film aficionados will follow their output closely. Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, Park Circus' first Blu-ray release, arrives with a few issues, but it is step in the right direction. The disc is Region-B "locked".
The Kid Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Two Chaplin Films Announced for Blu-ray - February 15, 2010
UK film distributor Park Circus has announced that its new home entertainment label will launch in the second quarter of 2010 and that it will start with a bang, by being the first to release movies directed by Charlie Chaplin in high definition, licensed from ...
The Kid Blu-ray Screenshots
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