Despite the wonderful releases of the films of Charlie Chaplin from Image Entertainment, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment promised definitive versions of the entertainer’s works last year. Now the studio is making good on that promise with the first four titles due in June. Modern Times, Limelight, The Great Dictator and a very special release of The Gold Rush are all on the way.
As films went from silent to sound, Chaplin created “Modern Times” using sound as a unique and ingenious metaphor on the times he lived in. How ironic that the sound, which represented technological change, has now been mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 along with the film in its original 1.37:1 ratio. The DVD will contain the documentary Chaplin Today – Modern Times: Insightful, an introduction to the film by Chaplin biographer David Robinson, an alternate scene , original story notes, production notes for the “feeding machine” sequence, a “video reminiscence” by musical arranger/composer David Raksin, international theatrical trailers and extensive photo and poster galleries.
“Limelight” will also feature the film’s original 1.37:1 ratio and the original score mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1. The documentary Chaplin Today – Limelight: MK2TV is included as are a featurette on the seven other Chaplin family members in the film, home movies of Chaplin’s children and Chaplin in London, deleted scenes cut after the premiere, an introduction by David Robinson, theatrical trailers, poster and photo galleries, an isolated score, sections of Chaplin’s working text for the novel on which the film is based, an excerpt of the unfinished 1919 film, The Professor and production notes.
“The Great Dictator” is one of the more controversial, yet oddly timely films. The film, is presented in its original academy ratio with a score recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1. The documentary The Tramp and the Dictator: Acclaimed Turner Classic Movies is included. Other features include rare color home movies of Chaplin, a deleted scene from the short film Sunnyside, a Hitler/Mussolini excerpt from Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux, Chaplin’s original story notes, drafts of scripts and production records documenting his creation of the film’s final sequence, a poster gallery and newsreel footage on Adolph Hitler.
And last but not least comes “The Gold Rush”. Perhaps Chaplin’s most celebrated film, a decent version of the original film has become the bane of many home video collectors. Alternate and edited versions, misplaced audio scores and low quality have plagued the video history of the film as has confusion with the 1942 re-release of the film with audio and new inserts (long before George Lucas had the idea of reinventing his films). Finally, a fully restored version of the original 1925 film with the original score, composed by Chaplin, placed back in the film (mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 no less). In addition, the 1942 version of the film, will also be included in its entirety. Extras on the DVD include the documentary Chaplin Today – The Gold Rush: MK2TV, an introduction by David Robinson, theatrical trailers from around the world, photo and poster galleries, an interview with Lita Grey Chaplin and the original “scenario” written by Chaplin prior to filming.
All of this makes for some great DVDs from Warner Brothers, priced at $29.95 each, the DVDs will arrive on July 1st.