There is a lot to be said about the role that Charlie
Chaplin played in the influencing of American pop culture. Although the medium
of silent film was already generating a lot of excitement before his debut,
Chaplin managed to propel this medium into the very forefront of entertainment.
At the height of his popularity, Chaplin’s persona, the little tramp, was one
of the most nationally recognizable images. Today, nearly one hundred years
later, his reputation has endured. Chaplin’s character relied on his quirky,
idiosyncratic mannerisms to become an iconic figure in the silent movie era.
The degree to which he was able to perfectly manipulate his physical actions
were compared to that of a professional ballet dancer’s. Apart from staring in
various groundbreaking movies throughout the early 20th century, Chaplin also
directed a number of films throughout his lifetime, making him one of the first
figures to star, write, and direct his own films. This would set an example for
future generations of actors such as Orson Welles or Clint Eastwood. Chaplin
was known as one of the most demanding directors in Hollywood. His focus on the controlling of his environment allowed for subtlety
to come through. His desire to control every aspect of a film forced many of
his movies to go over
the allotted time and budget, but the final product was always worth the
effort. Though Chaplin is best known for his contribution to the silent film
era, he also laid the groundwork for the modern films we know today. As films
grew longer and audio was added, actors would model their skills on Chaplin’s
particular brand of humor, which involved very exaggerated physical activity.
In order to keep the audience’s attention throughout the feature-length
talkies, the need for more subtle acting became apparent (PBS.org). Chaplin
demanded this from his actors long before anyone else did, leading the way to a
new, more sophisticated cinema. Chaplin popularized feature-length films in a
time where many studios were still doing ten-minute pictures, and set the precedent
for modern cinema.