The Sound of Charlie Chaplin – Philharmonie Paris

Quick! The Sound of Charlie Chaplin Exhibition ends January 26, 2020

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin exhibition is an invitation to rediscover the work of the master of silent film from a musical vantage point, shining the spotlight on the close relation to dance, rhythm and the illusion of speech and sound, all rigorously “orchestrated” in each of Chapin’s works.

Confronting Chaplin’s cinematographic art with numerous works, machines, scores and manuscripts, this exhibition restores all the “eloquence” of his genius, whose influence extends from the avant-garde to popular culture. Examining everything in his work that makes “noise” and “speaks” to the eyes as well as to the ear, the exhibition shows how much the search for sound and musical expression catalyzes his entire imagination.

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin
Photo by Yves Aouat – @ParisFlaneriesPhoto

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin exhibition extends the (often limited) field of music to other objects, such as noise, gesture and rhythm. Resolutely, Tramp’s silent pantomime has established itself as one of the most emblematic “sound bodies” of the 20th century, and even one of the most visionary and politically committed.

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin
Photo by Yves Aouat – @ParisFlaneriesPhoto

The exhibition starts with Chaplin and the music hall. We find out that he performed his first real role at age fourteen, and at age eighteen, thanks to his older half-brother Sydney, also a stage performer, he joined the company of Fred Karno, the greatest impresario in British vaudeville. The second part of the exhibition is very interesting as it shows how he invented the iconic character The Little Tramp with his funny waddle, or “Charlot” as he is called in France. Within four years, Chaplin had risen to international fame; he had invented a truly unmistakeable character. The funniness lies in this body-in-motion, choreographed like the body of a dancer, perfectly in sync with the timing of the editing. We then find out more about silent films and that the name is actually not very accurate since pictures were accompanied by a pianist or multiple musicians, and sometimes sound effects. Chaplin began taking great care with the music that accompanied a film’s premiere for example. From 1931 onwards, he composed all of his soundtracks, and some of his previous films were re-released with his own compositions as the accompaniment. He taught himself to play the violin and piano by ear, and dreamt of becoming a professional musician. The last part of the exhibition is about the rise of “talking pictures”  and how Chaplin resisted. Aware that his comic style reposed on his character’s body language, he carried on with pantomime, creating City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936), turning the tramp’s stubborn muteness into a statement. 

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin
Photo by Yves Aouat – @ParisFlaneriesPhoto

The Sound of Charlie Chaplin not only offers a wonderful path to learn more about Charlot but also some fun activities for the whole family! You will be able to do the sounds effect for a silent movie, meet the Tramp’s hologram or create your own Charlot Cubiste as Fernand Léger did in 1924! A brilliant place to bring children so they can learn and have fun too! 

Practical Information :

Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris
221, avenue Jean-Jaurès
75019 Paris

  • from Tuesday to Thrusday: 12am – 6pm
  • on Fridays: 12am – 8pm
  • on Saturdays and Sundays: 10am – 8pm

Guided tours are being held at 11am, on Saturdays, Sundays