Our website uses cookies. These are small text files which your web browser stores on your computer. Cookies are used to identify your computer to our server and store your website preferences. Cookies do not contain any personally identifying information.

Blog

Modern Times in Lake Geneva

Photo: Insomnia Cured Here

John Malathronas finds Charlie Chaplin is fondly remembered in a picturesque Swiss location

 

It took a long time to build this museum for Charlie Chaplin. His eight children, all still alive, had to be convinced that it would present a true portrait of their father. Investors had to be chased and won over. Neighbours had to be placated. Yves Durand, a museum ‘conceptor’ from Montreal – and Chaplin fan – fought for 16 years to bring the project to a successful conclusion, but the result is a triumph of his vision and tenacity.

Chaplin’s World uses the Chaplin family home overlooking Vevey on Lake Geneva to reveal the man, while a custom-built studio explores the artist.

And it succeeds. From the moment you enter an amphitheatre screening a short film about his life and 1917’s Easy Street, the path through his oeuvre is entertaining and immersive.

I know Chaplin as a comic actor but the sheer detail of his artistry had escaped me. I walk from room to room with an increasing admiration of his genius, surprised, bemused, and always chuckling. He introduced detailed scripts in place of improvisation – previously you put together a cop, a girl, a funny guy and a fat bloke and let the camera roll.

He pioneered special effects. We are shown how one shot of him skating blindfolded at the rim of a precipice was a post-production trick. A tangle of editing machines demonstrates his painstaking perfectionism: he shot 65,215 metres of reels for the 1936 film Modern Times, and ended up using only 2,477. (When rebuked that ‘film is expensive’ he replied ‘ideas are more expensive’.)

The exhibits are all interactive. You’re encouraged to put on a Tramp bowler hat, grab his cane and take a selfie. I sat on a barber’s chair attended by a Chaplin waxwork while his famous barbershop clip played overhead. Faced with the choice of which Chaplin character to dress up as, I went for the Great Dictator and posed for a laugh.

Complementing this is the villa where Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life. Its rooms resonate with his presence. It is filled with photographs from the family vaults and original furniture. Here is his office where he worked every morning.

There is his library with the complete volumes of Punch, which he used as an inspiration. A door leads to his lounge and a Steinway piano. In the dining room, the table is set as it would have been to welcome Chaplin and his family every evening at 6.45pm. (And we are reminded of his influence – Michael Jackson was a huge fan.)

I take a stroll in the huge garden with its grand views of the Alps. This was the location for his annual Easter egg hunt, for a Halloween party with enough candy to upset the strongest stomach and a puppet theatre for rainy weather.

I finish my stroll and walk out through the souvenir shop, which appropriately, displays his bon mot “A day without laughter is a day wasted”. This is not a wasted day.

chaplinsworld.com

Content Notice: Every care is taken in compiling the contents online and in print. However destinationsguide.co.uk and the publisher assume no responsibility for consequences resulting from the publication of, or use of, any of the information contained online/in print. While every care is taken in the accuracy of the information compiled, it is strongly advised the visitor/reader double checks all travel advice with the respective tourist boards/embassies/government offices before acting on any information.

If you would like to contact us with any concerns about any of the content on our website, or report any inaccuracies or notify us of any copyright issues, please send us an email on editorial@aplmedia.co.uk with the url of the article or page and details of the issue. We will respond to any enquiries within 21 days and endeavour to correct any mistakes as soon as possible.

Destinationsguide.co.uk is published by APL Media Limited, Unit 310, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL. www.aplmedia.co.uk

Editorial enquiries t: +44 (0)20 7253 9906 e: editorial@aplmedia.co.uk

Sales enquiries t: +44 (0)20 7253 9909 e: sales@aplmedia.co.uk

Company no: 3393234  |  VAT: 701391176  |  Registered Office: 30 City Road, London EC1Y 2AB  |  Copyright 2014 APL Media Ltd. All Rights Reserved.