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Echoes #16

Chaplin and Godard meet in the dawn of consumerism, amongst expressionistic buildings, jolting violent, and seductive women.
Alternating images from Charlie Chaplin's A King in New York (1957) and Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965):
Much of Godard and Chaplin's concerns within these individual films are the same, and indeed A King In New York is on Godard's Top Ten of 1957 list, as well as topping Cahiers' overall list for that year. Buildings are terrifying, expressionistic structures of glass and steel. Violence is strange and jolting, both to the observer and the victim. We are forced to turn left or right, rather than making the conscious decision to do so. Both films take place in hotel rooms-galore, and in both cases the hotel's service consists of robotic human beings who understand nothing but complacency and subservience. The dawn of consumerism is a target of both works as well, and in both cases women look at us seductively but without feeling, as though they are part of advertisements themselves. As usual in Chaplin, a child is a paeon of hope, though by the films end, and unusually for Chaplin, we see a child turned into an emotional wreck, stripped of his values by authorities in perhaps the most devastating of all of Chaplin's endings. In this context, Godard's film is even more terrifying. Made nearly ten years on, and taking place in an immediate, dystopian future, there are no children at all.
 Part of our on-going series, Echoes.
Interesting point about there being no children at all in “Alphaville”. Good entry in the series. Keep em coming.
Great entry in the echo series. A King in New York is one of my favorite Chaplins and Alphaville is my favorite 60’s Godard. Two underrated works by two masters!
agreed! I think A King in New York is incredibly underrated (but then I love almost all Chaplin)
I’m a big fan of Chaplin and I truly believe that his talkies are his most interesting films. It’s a shame that they’re so neglected (by critics as well as fans of Chaplin). I think it was Rossellini who described A King in new York as “The film of a free man” or something very similar to that.
“A King in New York” is a bit clumsy in my opinion. “Monsieur Verdoux” is a stunning masterpiece from his talkie period.
I guess describing “A King in New York” as a bit clumsy is fair enough. I agree that Verdoux is a stunning masterpiece. In fact, it’s my favorite Chaplin.

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