Showtime recently released the trailer for a new documentary film called The Real Charlie Chaplin about the life and career of famous silent-film star Charlie Chaplin. From award-winning directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney (Notes on Blindness) and narrated by Peral Mackie (Doctor Who), the feature-length documentary will premiere on Showtime on Saturday, December 11, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The film will begin its theatrical run at the Cinema Village theater in New York and the Laemmle Monica Film Center in Los Angeles on Friday, November 19.
The documentary film will display unprecedented access into the Chaplin archives, featuring never-before-heard recordings, intimate home movies, behind-the-scenes material, and newly restored classic films to reveal a side of the worldwide icon. Tracing back to Chaplin’s first onscreen appearance, over a century ago, the film describes itself as a “recount of Chaplin’s meteoric rise from the slums of Victorian London to the heights of Hollywood superstardom, including his scandalous fall from grace.” The film begs the question; who was the real Charlie Chaplin?
This is the second feature from Middleton and Spinney, who have partnered on a range of non-fiction projects over the past decade. In 2014, they won an Emmy Award for the short documentary film Notes on Blindness, a piece in a series of short films adapted from the audio diaries of 𝕓𝕝𝕚𝕟𝕕 Australian theologian John Hull. Their debut feature of the same name premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and was nominated for six British Independent Film Awards and three BAFTAs, winning Best Documentary in each award show.
Based on the trailer, the film also explores the darker side of Chaplin’s life, namely, his distant relationship with loved ones and desire to be seen as entertaining. “I had grown up with the icon,” states a female voice overlapping burning film footage of Chaplin, “But I had no idea who the man was.”
Since having initially premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, with screenings at the BFI London Film Festival, Zurich Film Festival, and Hamptons International Film Festival, The Real Charlie Chaplin has received three Critics Choice Doc Awards nominations, including Best Archival Documentary, Best Narration, and Best Editing. It is being produced by Ben Limberg who took note of the directors after seeing Notes on Blindness. He acquired access from Chaplin’s estate to his personal archives. Producing alongside Limberg is John Battsek for Passion Pictures; Mike Brett and Steve Jamison for Archer’s Mark; and Jo-Jo Ellison.
Described as a “kaleidoscopic portrait of a man who became an immortal legend” The Real Charlie Chaplin promises to be a fascinating look into the mysterious life of the worldwide icon.