The Circus

Watch The Circus

"The Circus is Here!"
  • Passed
  • 1928
  • 1 hr 10 min
  • 8.1  (35,757)
  • 90

The Circus is a 1928 silent comedy film directed by Charles Chaplin himself, who also starred in the movie. The film tells the story of a tramp who inadvertently becomes the star attraction of a traveling circus. It also stars Merna Kennedy as a beautiful and talented circus performer who becomes the object of the Tramp's affection, and Al Ernest Garcia as the heavy-handed circus owner seeking to exploit the Tramp's accidental comedy.

The film begins with the Tramp's arrival at a circus that is struggling to attract audiences. The circus workers, including a funny man and a tightrope walker, mistake the Tramp for a pickpocket, and they chase him through a funhouse, a hall of mirrors, and other attractions, inadvertently causing chaos and hilarity. The Tramp escapes by hiding in a barrel, which is subsequently loaded onto a railway car. Unaware of the barrel's contents, a group of circus performers boards the same car, and they accidentally lock the Tramp inside with them.

The Tramp is initially horrified by the thought of being trapped with the circus performers, but he soon realizes that his presence has unwittingly caused the audience to double in size. The performers, recognizing his talent for physical comedy, offer him a job as a clown. The Tramp accepts, initially out of necessity, but he soon finds that the circus is his true calling. He becomes the comic centerpiece of the show, delighting audiences with his antics and pratfalls.

Despite his success as a performer, the Tramp's personal life remains complicated. He falls in love with Merna Kennedy's character, a beautiful tightrope walker, but his affections are unrequited. The circus owner, played by Al Ernest Garcia, is determined to exploit the Tramp's talents for his own gain, forcing him to perform increasingly dangerous stunts. The Tramp's situation is made more difficult by the presence of a rival clown, who is jealous of the Tramp's success.

The Circus is notable for several reasons. First, it was one of the last silent films to be made before the advent of talking pictures. Charles Chaplin, who had been reluctant to embrace sound technology, believed that comedy should be universal and that spoken language could limit the reach of his art. Second, the film features some of Chaplin's most spectacular comic set pieces, including a breathtaking sequence in which the Tramp unwittingly becomes the star of a lion taming act. Third, the film's romantic subplot, which features some of Chaplin's most heartfelt and delicate work as an actor, adds depth and emotional resonance to what might otherwise have been a purely comic story.

The Circus is also notable for its production history. Chaplin, who was famously obsessive about his work, spent nearly three years on the film, shooting over 200,000 feet of footage and scrapping most of it. The film was beset by a variety of technical problems, including poor weather, unreliable cameras, and a fire that destroyed the set. Chaplin's perfectionism, coupled with his anxieties about the changing nature of the film industry, caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown during production, delaying the film's release by several months.

Despite these difficulties, The Circus was a critical and commercial success. It received three Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture, and Chaplin himself won a special Oscar for "versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing, and producing The Circus." The film's reputation has only grown over time, and it is now considered one of Chaplin's masterpieces.

In conclusion, The Circus is a classic example of Chaplin's unique brand of comedy. It showcases his extraordinary talent for physical humor, his ability to create memorable characters, and his willingness to tackle serious emotional themes. The film is a testament to the power of silent cinema, and a reminder of the enduring appeal of the Tramp, one of the most iconic and beloved figures in film history.

The Circus is a 1928 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 10 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.1 and a MetaScore of 90.

The Circus
Where to Watch The Circus
The Circus is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, FlixFling, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Circus for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 10 min
  • Language
    Silent film, English intertitles
  • IMDB Rating
    8.1  (35,757)
  • Metascore