The Kid – A philosophical analysis

the kid chaplin

The Kid by Charlie Chaplin: Summary and Analysis

The Kid, filmed in 1921, is certainly the most beautiful of Charlie Chaplin’s films and a highly meaningful, perhaps philosophical film about fatherhood and childhood. This movie offers an opportunity for philosophers to examine the father/child relationship.

In “Reflections of a filmmaker,” Eisenstein relates this reflection of Chaplin: “You remember the scene where I throw over to Policeman grain for chickens? For my part, it was contempt. I do not like children. ” Chaplin is hostile to children. Could we make a comparison between the little bastard and the young Chaplin ?

The Kid is almost pure drama and Chaplin shows himself more of a dramatic actor andless of a clown than in any previous film. Laughter springs most often to the situation or pantomime, not rude or playful harlequinades. The scenario is studied and the dramatic situations are dealt with in a realistic style that foreshadowed his previous films.

The Kid is his sincere pathos. This movie could make turn into exaggerated sentimentality, but Chaplin does not fall into this easy trap.


A biographic story

The Kid is autobiographical. The film reproduced exactly the Chaplin miserable childhood, he felt the need to be constantly with his mother, his despair when he had to leave her. Charlie Chaplin and the lost child are sharing their  adoption. As every sensitive and emotional men, Chaplin loved children, but they terrified him.

Thus we can assume that the kid is Chaplin himself as a child and that adoption symbolizes unconscious from beyond Chaplin adult retrospective desire to have a father, the father he hardly knew .

In the stage of separation with the kid, Chaplin relived his own childhood and reached the highest peak of dramatic intensity. The confusion over who was then his face was at the height of art and beyond sincerity. Chaplin’s Optimism was less deep in a “happy ending”. Charlot does not let dwn the child, he runs on  he catches in a nearby strret … His ideal is the struggle. Charley stands here against the whole society against all “other” to defend his kid. The epic struggle begun with the policeman, with the beefy neighborhood, with employees on public assistance, brimming with compassion and emotion. The intimate scenes of life in the barracks, subterfuge employed by Charley at the night shelter, everything would be to quote – and still dreams that completes the movie about a magical ballet. The end of the film is a true poem of love and tenderness where the feelings are sharpened, strengthened by the misery and misfortune.


Chaplin and human suffering

The Kid lets see how this misery can give a powerful sensitivity to those who suffer. Among these beings hunted and constantly on the defensive, the least little dramas soon take a look, a tone of tragedy.

When one is telling about the Kid, one can fear the worst melodrama, esay feelings. Chaplin stands poles apart. And yet, there is fear and pity, the sense of misery, but, above all, a mouving philosophy. This philosophy is the memory implemented as a layer, not yet synthesized – Child Chaplin. Last attempt to forget the anxiety that haunts him and which he suffers. It is very bold to refer to a different sensibility than his own character.

The Kid is more a testimony than an indictment. Tyler seems fascinated by the coincidence of age: Jack Coogan is about five years as Chaplin in his father’s death. But deepening the genetic point of view of psychoanalysis raises objections of revolution and “relived”. People do not die on the screen. And parental deficiency is overcompensated symbolically by the alcoholic father and by and the mother misled by misery, Charles retrieves them in the dream poetry. However, if deprived of his parents, he transforms them in ideal, theoretic parents.

The Kid is a cons-Charlie, and the image of life is reversed in the mirror of the film. The process is probably even more complex: it can be assumed that Chaplin is both the kid and his parents in that movie, which is his psychoanalysis.

Cite this article as: Tim, "The Kid – A philosophical analysis, June 12, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, June 12, 2012,

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