Watch Limelight

"The masterpiece of laughter and tears from the master of comedy!"
  • G
  • 1952
  • 2 hr 17 min
  • 8.0  (21,951)
  • 84

Limelight is a 1952 drama film directed by Charlie Chaplin. This was his last major movie role, and he co-starred with Claire Bloom, Nigel Bruce, and other talented actors. The story is set in London in the 1910s and follows the life of Calvero, a fading clown and music hall performer who struggles with depression, alcoholism, and his own mortality. One day, he saves a young ballerina named Terry from a suicide attempt, and they form an unlikely bond that changes both of their lives.

The movie starts with a prologue that sets the tone for the rest of the film. In it, Chaplin himself appears as a circus clown who can no longer make the audience laugh. He says that he has lost his touch, his spirit, and his love for the art. He then disappears behind the curtains, and the camera zooms out to show the empty circus ring, as if to symbolize the emptiness of his life. The prologue is a nostalgic and melancholic tribute to the days of vaudeville and silent comedy, and it introduces the recurring themes of loneliness, nostalgia, and artistic decline that run throughout the movie.

The story then moves to London, where we meet Calvero, a clown who has fallen on hard times. He lives in a shabby apartment, drinks heavily, and keeps trying to commit suicide without much success. One night, he hears a thud in the apartment above his own and finds Terry, a young ballerina, lying unconscious on the floor. He revives her and offers her a helping hand. Terry is grateful, but she's also proud and reluctant to accept charity. Calvero, however, sees himself in her and recognizes her talent and potential. He convinces her to stay with him, and he becomes her mentor, teacher, and confidant. He also finds in her a reason to live and to perform again.

The relationship between Calvero and Terry is the emotional core of the movie. They are both damaged, vulnerable, and passionate artists who share a deep love for the stage. Calvero teaches Terry not only the technical aspects of ballet but also the secrets of comedy, drama, and music. He shows her how to improvise, how to project, and how to connect with the audience. He also shares with her his wisdom, his humor, and his heart. They rehearse together, perform together, and dream together. They also fight, argue, and misunderstand each other, but their bond grows stronger with each passing scene. Chaplin and Bloom have excellent chemistry as actors, and their scenes are poignant, funny, and heartwarming.

The movie also features several subplots and supporting characters that add texture and depth to the story. Nigel Bruce plays Neville, a wealthy man who had an affair with Terry's mother and who wants to help Terry financially, but who also feels guilty and insecure about his past actions. Claire Bloom's father had played Neville in the London production of the 1930s, and she had seen the play as a child. Bloom describes what she felt looking out and seeing the well-dressed, well-heeled audience watching her perform onstage in the old theatre.

There's also a romantic subplot involving Calvero and a young dancer named Thereza, played by Claire Bloom, a fellow artist who adores him and wants to be with him, but who also understands that his heart belongs to Terry. Thereza is a minor character, but Bloom infuses her with poise, grace, and warmth.

The movie is notable for its excellent cinematography, especially in the musical scenes. Chaplin's longtime collaborator, Rollie Totheroh, captures the beauty, elegance, and melancholy of ballet and pantomime with delicate camera movements and subtle lighting. The musical score, composed by Chaplin himself, is also superb, with haunting melodies and lively dance tunes that enhance the emotional impact of the scenes.

The movie has several key themes that make it relevant even today. It explores the relationship between art and life, the importance of creativity and expression, and the struggles and rewards of aging and mortality. It also deals with issues of gender, class, and mental health in a compassionate and insightful way. The movie shows how art can heal, inspire, and transform people's lives, and how it can also be a source of pain, disillusionment, and regret.

In summary, Limelight is a poignant, lyrical, and powerful movie that showcases Chaplin's talent as an actor, writer, and director. It's a nostalgic and bittersweet tribute to the golden age of vaudeville and silent comedy, and a heartfelt celebration of the human spirit. It's also a masterpiece of cinema that deserves to be rediscovered and appreciated by a new generation of moviegoers.

Limelight is a 1952 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.0 and a MetaScore of 84.

Where to Watch Limelight
Limelight is available to watch free on Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Max, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Limelight for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 17 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (21,951)
  • Metascore