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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Chaplin colour footage unearthed
Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator
Chaplin was born in 1889

Unseen footage of comic legend Charlie Chaplin, including film outtakes, backstage glimpses and family home movies is to be released for the first time on DVD.

It includes colour footage of Chaplin on set as he was making his black-and-white film The Great Dictator (1940), a satire of Nazi Germany, in which he dances with actress Grace Hale and goose-steps as they whirl around the dancefloor.

He was always worried he wouldn't be remembered

Geraldine Chaplin
The DVDs will include 18 of his films, including The Kid, made in 1921, The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931), and will also feature 18 documentaries featuring stars including Martin Scorcese and Nanni Moretti discussing how his influence on modern cinema.

Chaplin's daughter Geraldine, 57, who starred in her father's film Limelight, told BBC News Online her family had fought over how best to preserve her father's films.


"I am one of eight children and we were fighting between ourselves over what to do with his films - it was a disaster," she said.

Geraldine Chaplin
Chaplin's daughter preserves his legacy
"Then we were given the chance to bring them out on DVD - and we all agreed . Now everyone will be able to have copies of his work - I'm thrilled," she said, adding that it "kills me" that her father was unable to see the DVDs. "He was always worried he wouldn't be remembered," she said.

Some of the footage, which was surprisingly well-preserved, was found in a trunk in the cellar of his house in Corsier sur Vevey in Switzerland, and had been shot by Ms Chaplin's uncle.

"When my sister found the trunk, it was full of 16mm films and she thought it was home movies," she said.

"She couldn't believe it when it was colour footage of The Great Dictator, which Uncle Sidney had filmed when he had been on the set."

Home footage

Ms Chaplin, who admitted she was seeing the footage for the first time when it was shown in Cannes on Thursday, said afterwards it was "great" seeing him on film, although she could not get used to seeing the footage in colour.

We want to help enhance the cinema literacy of a generation

Warren Lieberfarb, Warner
Some of the home footage reveals that Chaplin also clowned around when he was with his family. It includes walking down a gravel path in their garden pretending to be Pan by skipping, picking flowers, eating them and burping.

The DVDs will be distributed by Warner Home Video and MK2, which produces and distributes movies by film auteurs.

Film producer Marin Karmitz, whose company MK2 will produce the DVD edition, said his objective was "to allow the man who is undeniably one of the major artists of the 20th Century to regain his position in cinema and to have younger generations rediscover an important body of work which is still very modern today."

Music hall

Warren Lieberfarb, president ofWarner Home Video, added that he thought Chaplin had "more understaning of cinema comedy than anyone else" in the last century.

"We want to help enhance the cinema literacy of a generation," he added.

Charlie Chaplin, who died in 1977, was born in London to music-hall parents. After beginning his life in showbusiness as a child dancer, he entered silent motion pictures in 1913, aged 24.

His appeal as a silent screen star, director and producer of hundreds of films has endured through to the present day, and up until 1950 his films grossed five times more than any other US film, apart from Gone With the Wind.

One of his most popular silent films was The Kid, which was made in 1921 and combined both the comedy and sentimentality for which he was famed. Chaplin played a tramp who finds an abandoned child, played byJackie Coogan, and makes a home for him, before ultimately finding the child's mother.

The Chaplin Collection will be launched on DVD next Spring and The Great Dictator will be re-released in cinemas across France in October this year.

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