Thanks to Ray over at Obsessed With Movies for bringing this to my attention. There are a few reasons why I would usually overlook the new edition of Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin and not even bother giving it more than a brief mention despite my admittedly biased like of the movie. For one, I had not heard of this re-release, which means it was probably extremely rushed to capitalize off Robert Downey Jr.’s reemergence as a big-time bankable star (yep, it was announced in September). Secondly, because of this, this DVD has very little more on it than the 1998 release. Just a couple of featurettes and that’s it. Not even a commentary.
But I am bringing this up anyway, although naively and for no other reason than a young man chasing a dream. A part of me wonders, hopes, pleads that maybe, just maybe respectable sales of this DVD will lead to releasing Attenborough’s 4-hour long original cut. Yes, I know how unlikely that is and not just because of the ridiculous amounts of politics that would be involved there, but because Attenborough is 85-years-old and not getting any younger. Still, he’s not exactly retired, having directed a film as recently as last year.
I’ve championed this film for as long as I have been writing about movies and while I recognize its glaring flaws – the near fatal one being the heavy focus on Charlie Chaplin’s love life rather than his genius – I’ve always felt the restored hour and a half would also restore the brilliance I know is hiding somewhere in this film. Otherwise, the movie is just a showcase for Downey Jr. and his eerily magnificent channeling of Charles Chaplin.
So, this is my plea to Lionsgate and Attenborough and whoever the hell is in charge of deciding such a thing. If this DVD does well, the original cut needs to become a reality. Attenborough has expressed interest in it before and always said that the movie that was released was not the film he envisioned – so let’s get this thing done.
Come on, really, who wouldn’t want to see this happen?