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‘People who knew him … didn’t really know him’: who was the real Charlie Chaplin?

In a definitive new documentary, a deeper look at the much-loved movie star provides more insight into ‘one of the greatest rags-to-riches stories ever told’ When a normal person ascends to the firmament of fame, their sense of identity is split in two. The self-perception they’ve developed over their life up to that point – the ‘true’ self, allowed to emerge in intimate moments – must contend with an outward-facing image over which they can exert unsettlingly minimal control. The more canny-minded celebrities seize the reins of their own PR by cultivating a persona they can get out in front of, caricaturing themselves before someone else gets the chance. Charlie Chaplin, perhaps the first A-lister to contend with this existential quandary of exposure, went one step further by inventing a character he could plaster over himself. The Real Charlie Chaplin, a new documentary in cinemas this week, posits his Little Tramp alter ego as a shield and veil. If audiences were looking at the bowler hat, toothbrush mustache, and rubbery cane, they’d never see the man wearing them. Continue reading...

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