Chaplin’s World a must-see Swiss attraction

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Charlie Chaplin would have turned 133 on April 16. He was one of the pioneers of Hollywood’s motion picture industry but, to be honest, I hadn’t given him much thought until I visited the Swiss region of Corsier-sur-Vevey. It was here on one damp and drizzly day that I unexpectedly became a fan of the fascinating man who inadvertently blazed many a trail.

Nestled between Lake Geneva and the western edge of the Swiss Alps is Chaplin’s World, a unique and expansive museum dedicated to the life of the legendary actor. Situated on a 3,000-square-metre park-like property lined with towering centuries-old trees and enchanting gardens is Manoir de Ban, the stately home where Chaplin lived for nearly 25 years of his life, and where he died on Dec. 25, 1977.

As you wind your way through regal rooms and alluring halls, details of Chaplin’s public and private lives are revealed through writings, images, personal items, and life-sized dioramas. Considered a genius by many, his engaging story starts two decades before the birth of Hollywood, going all the way back to when little Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in 1889, in London, England. Essentially orphaned by the age of 10, young Charlie took to the stage with his natural talent, as it was best way of supporting himself and younger brother Sydney.

The Manoir de Ban in Corsier-sur-Vevey was Charlie Chaplin’s last home and is now a museum devoted to his life and work.

A fortuitous career path took him to the United States as a featured player with a touring vaudeville company in 1910. This led to his first motion-picture contract in 1913, and the start of an impressive and accomplished movie career that ran to 1967.

Chaplin was launched into global superstardom during film’s silent era. In 1915 he released The Tramp, introducing the world to the lovable, bow-tied, bowler-hatted character he became best known for. What I didn’t know about Chaplin was that, in addition to starring in more than 80 films, he also directed, wrote, edited, and composed the music for many of his projects.

It seems he had all the skills needed to make his own movies from start to finish, and to be his own producer and distributor, too. So that’s what he did in 1919m when he co-founded United Artists Corporation along with fellow Hollywood heavyweights Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith. Together they established the first production house that was independent of the studios of the day, and intended to give artists better business and creative control of their own interests.

Chaplin World also features a Hollywood-style studio, with 1,850 square metres of thematic exhibits that showcase Chaplin’s professional, while capturing the humour, emotion, and humanity of his many projects. The venue enables guests to discover both the man and the artist, and has become a coveted attraction for cult-movie lovers who are fans of his ‘Little Tramp’ character and memorabilia.

Scenes from Chaplin’s movies are replicated in interactive ways throughout the studio, representing different eras and settings while also shedding light on how films were made in those early days. The red-velvet-curtained movie theatre onsite reflects old-fashioned, vaudevillian design but comes equipped with modern, state-of-the-art technology for current screenings of Chaplin’s films and documentaries about his interesting life.

If you’re interested in Charlie Chaplin, then Chaplin’s World is a must-visit attraction. If you’re not a fan, or don’t know anything about him, I highly recommend that you go anyway. You just might discover an intriguing rags-to-riches story that is capable of inspiring anyone. Myself included.

RoseAnna Schick

RoseAnna Schick
Travelations

RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller and music lover who seeks inspiration wherever she goes. Email her at rascreative@yahoo.ca

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