3 January 2011 | MartinHafer
Worth seeing for his fans...but awfully short.
For huge fans of Charlie Chaplin, this documentary will probably be a disappointment because it attempts to cover about 25 years of the stars later life in under one hour! While these were not the most productive years in his career, trying to cram these decades into such a tiny film seemed sadly incomplete. And, inexplicably, some of what the film emphasized seemed relatively unimportant and other aspects were completely forgotten. For example, the film interviewed circus performers who barely knew Chaplin and yet never mentioned one of his greatest films that came out at about the same time the documentary was set ("Limelight" in 1952) nor did it explore exactly why Chaplin was hounded as a supposed communist. Instead, the film simply seemed to be family members and ordinary folks who knew him being interviewed--no matter how interesting or important their recollections. On the other hand, as this period of time is mostly a cipher (he was 'in exile' in Switzerland--whatever that means!) and at least it gives insight into what he was doing and what he was like in his later years.
My feeling is that this film would be great to watch AFTER seeing a more detailed documentary about his earlier years--warts and all (such as his penchant for very young women). Seeing "The Forgotten Years" AFTER Kevin Brownlow's fantastic "Unknown Chaplin" would be perfect. Chaplin was a truly gifted genius, but a three dimensional one with foibles and eccentricities--that is the sort of documentary I really want to see.