Sunday, May 17, 2015

Silent Sundays: A Burlesque on Carmen (1915)


Image result for burlesque on carmen 1915
“Along the sunny shores of Spain, where men do the dishes- and women smoke cigars there dwelt a band who put the GYP in gypsy.”

            If you know anything about Charlie Chaplin’s films and their stories there is usually a bit of series masked largely by comedy. You can look at a lot of his works such as The Immigrant, The Great Dictator, and City Lights to see there is a message, a sadness, and a seriousness lurking underneath his comedy. In 1915 Chaplin took to parodying the dramatic seriousness of the famous story and opera Carmen. There is no social message like his original material but none the less it is a great take on a silly dramatic story.
            A group of pirates wants to come ashore and sell their goods. They unfortunately cannot get into the city unless they can get through one of the guarded entrances into the city of Sevilla. They send the gorgeous seductress Carmen to convince the head guard to let them him.
            Chaplin plays the one guard Don Jose. In true Chaplin style Don Jose is anything but suave and stoic. He stumbles repeatedly over a rock and tells his guards to kill the bug on the ground. Carmen comes to the guards and all the men are immediately enchanted by her including Don Jose.
Image result for a burlesque on carmen 1915
Image result for a burlesque on carmen 1915
            Other things happen in between the time Carmen comes to camp and when she starts a brawl at the tobacco factory she works at. Don Jose is supposed to arrest her but instead because he loves her he lets her go. At the local the same day he gets into a fight with another officer and kills him. Now that Don Jose is a killer he leaves Sevilla and joins the gang of smugglers from the beginning of the film. He travels with them to another city where he finds Carmen is to be married to a bull fighter. In jealousy he appears to kill her but again in true Charlie Chaplin style, the knife is fake and both he and Edna Purviance look at the camera and smile.

            A Burlesque on Carmen was not bad it definitely is not one of Charlie Chaplin’s best films. In researching the story for this review apparently the version I watched is one that was extended by Essanay and was not the original one Chaplin had released some time previously. Essanay released a version that added a whole other story that did not need to be in the film and provided no continuity and the pacing is not that great. The version of A Burlesque on Carmen on YouTube lasted forty-three minutes but with the slow pacing it felt a little longer. Even though this is not the best Charlie Chaplin film I am not going to say to not watch it especially if you are a fan of his films in anyway. There were some good moments between the slow ones and his style of parody was great.