The Kid: A Century of a Laugh and a Tear

The silent films era produced some of the most creative and innovative films ever produced, it is how this blog got its name, and why filmmaking exists today. Sadly, a majority of films produced prior to sound are lost, including the first animated films, and the ever cherished Lon Chaney feature “London After Midnight” (1927); but we do have some, and those we have we must treasure and view as not only marvels of historical significance, but as films that allowed us to escape into a world of comedy, fantasy, mystery, romance, and whatever other genres you can think of. Silent film is incredibly important to understanding film, and one of the most endearing and beloved films is Charlie Chaplin’s first feature, “The Kid”.

Released in January 1921, “The Kid” is a simple story of Chaplin’s The Tramp finding an abandoned baby and raising it as his own only to meet the mother years later. It is a comedy, a drama, a fantasy, and full of heart that only Chaplin could produce. The simplicity of the story allows for Chaplin’s character to animate across the screen in a way that still mesmerizes and amuses. Chaplin became an auteur filmmaker with this one, having a hand in writing, producing, directing, starring, and scoring. A Renaissance man with questionable life choices, Chaplin is one of those people that had an extraordinary life, whether you love him or hate him, and “The Kid” was the gateway into American hearts that Chaplin needed at the time.

The film is barely an hour long, which is something that modern audiences would not even think twice about as a movie, but for 1921 it was a considerable length and it manages to tell its story without any padding or unnecessary plot points. A recommended watch for lovers of silent era films, those needing a good laugh, or perhaps a tear.

“The Kid” (1921) poster