‘Chaplin in Bali’: Docu on Charlie Chaplin’s Bali sojourn in the ’30s to premiere at Balinale festival

A still of Charlie Chaplin in his footage from Bali in 1932. Photo via YouTube
A still of Charlie Chaplin in his footage from Bali in 1932. Photo via YouTube

Charlie Chaplin came to Bali for a brief but life-changing trip way back in the day and now there’s a documentary coming out about his sojourn in the Island of the Gods.

The documentary, titled Chaplin in Bali, will premiere at the 11th Bali International Film Festival (Balinale). Set to screen on Sept. 24 at Cinemaxx Theatre, Lippo Mall in Kuta, the festival has chosen the docu as its opener.

The year was 1932 and the English silent film star was undergoing a midlife crisis with the advent of “talkies,” so he decided to book it east with his brother Sydney and “escape” to Bali, where he wouldn’t be recognized.

During his time in Bali, Chaplin filmed a blend of landscapes, people, and Balinese dance from his travels.

That black and white footage taken by Chaplin and his brother has been woven together with contemporary shots by French filmmaker Raphaël Millet to assist in telling Chaplin’s story from the time. From the contemporary side, the docu features clips of a lone dancer performing the Balinese dance, Legong Kupu Kupu, which apparently captivated Chaplin; there’s footage of Chaplin watching this specific dance and even emulating it himself much to the amusement of Balinese onlookers. While the dance was popular in the ’30s, it’s no longer performed anymore in Bali, so Millet had to bring on a Balinese dance master to revive it.

Millet insists that Chaplin was heavily inspired by his time in Bali. Four years after his trip, the release of Modern Times would mark a new era of filmmaking for the comedy master. It was in the 1936 film that world heard Chaplin’s voice — singing no less — for the first time after two decades of silent pantomime.

Watch the trailer for Chaplin in Bali, below:


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