Sound + Vision is a column that pairs film reviews with playlists inspired by the films reviewed. This month, we welcome Ladya Cheryl to discuss a Charlie Chaplin classic Monsieur Verdoux, which challenges its audience to reflect on their moral values.
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Country: United States
Listen to the playlist inspired by Monsieur Verdoux below.
During his early years, Charlie Chaplin became mainly known for his comedies and his multiple roles as a happy-go-lucky messenger of laughter. However, in his 1947 picture Monsieur Verdoux, Chaplin portrays a manipulative character who steals from (and later murders) rich widows but interestingly, he is able to convince the viewer that he is deserving of sympathy as well.
Henri Verdoux, the film’s main character, was inspired by real-life serial killer Henri Désiré Landru, who between 1915 and 1919, would swindle his female victims before murdering them. The character, however, is given the Chaplin treatment, developed further and provided with slivers of depth through his trademark characterizations. I’ve always admired Chaplin films that integrate various feelings into one scene. In Monsieur Verdoux, he manages to masterfully combine both the good and bad, creating scenes which are very complex in its nature.
Verdoux is portrayed as someone who believes in fate, and Chaplin uses this to full comedic effect through his character’s bumbling criminal attempts and his subsequent failures in doing so. Chaplin is also very dynamic as an actor, as he uses every inch of his body to respond to everything going on around him. The way he always portrays his characters in a strikingly human fashion is one of the reasons why I always enjoy watching his films.
Favorite scenes: Verdoux talks with a woman he just befriended in his dining room, Verdoux is on a yacht owned by Annabella Bonheur (played by Martha Raye), and Verdoux talks to a priest.
Favorite character: Annabella Bonheur.
Watch Monsieur Verdoux if you like: Mamma Roma (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962), High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963).
Highlights: this film reminds me to always be sure of the things that I choose to believe in and tries to ask us who we really are. Verdoux’s problems are not rooted in God or religion, but in the overall sense of humanity.
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