The Immigrant

Charles Chaplin

Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Roland Totheroh. Int.: Charles Chaplin (un emigrante), Edna Purviance (un’emigrante), Kitty Bradbury (madre della ragazza), Albert Austin (emigrante slavo/cliente al ristorante), Henry Bergman (donna slava/pittore), Loyal The Cure From the Archives of Roy Export Company Est. Underwood (l’emigrante piccolo piccolo), Eric Campbell (capocameriere), Stanley Sanford (giocatore d’azzardo sulla nave), James T. Kelley (uomo al ristorante), John Rand (ubriaco senza soldi), Frank J. Coleman (ufficiale di bordo/proprietario del ristorante), Tom Harrington (impiegato addetto alle licenze di matrimonio). Prod.: Charles Chaplin per Lone Star Mutual. Pri. pro.: 17 giugno 1917. DCP. 2 bobine/2 reels. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Beloved by Elia Kazan and Francis Ford Coppola – the former an immigrant and the latter a first generation American – as well as directors from across the globe, including Ousmane Sembène and Satyajit Ray, The Immigrant is one of the most powerful portraits of immigration of the past century, and probably the most personal work, closest to the heart and biography of its creator: “The Immigrant touched me more than any other film I made. I thought the end had quite a poetic feeling”, wrote Chaplin in My Life in Pictures. Emigrating twice, first from his native England to seek his fortune, and again, after being named a persona non grata, from his adopted United States, Chaplin’s American life began, as it did for millions of other Europeans, in New York, at the Statue of Liberty, where in The Immigrant a title card reads: “Arriving in the Land of the Free”, while passengers are shoved and herded together like cattle. Chaplin wrote of those early days of isolation and alienation, before the euphoria of starting a new life could take root, in one of the most lovely passages of My Autobiography: “The first day I felt quite inadequate. It was an ordeal to go into a restaurant and order something because of my English accent – and the fact that I spoke slowly. So many spoke in a rapid, clipped way that I felt uncomfortable for fear I might stutter and waste their time. I was an alien to this slick tempo. […] On the Avenue that first day many looked as I felt, alone and isolated; others swaggered along as though they owned the place”. Autobiographical issues aside, The Immigrant is most of all a film that, seen within the context of Chaplin’s body of work, expresses the identity of his character best: forever displaced, marginalized, excluded, someone who experiences and sees the world differently from everyone else (“with what eyes does Charlie Chaplin view the world?” Ejzenštejn asked himself), the wanderer and the eternal suspect described by Hannah Arendt: the Tramp is, by definition, an immigrant. In just over twenty minutes, with a firm hand and a more deliberate step than in his previous films, Chaplin finds the perfect balance between lyricism, humanism, social polemics and irrepressible comedy.

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Restored in 2012 by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in collaboration with Lobster Films and Film Preservation Associated