Charlie Chaplin, Director

Paper Text – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2952-8
Publication Date
March 2014
Page Count
374 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Charlie Chaplin, Director

Charlie Chaplin was one of the cinema’s consummate comic performers, yet he has long been criticized as a lackluster film director. In this groundbreaking work—the first to analyze Chaplin’s directorial style—Donna Kornhaber radically recasts his status as a filmmaker. Spanning Chaplin’s career, Kornhaber discovers a sophisticated "Chaplinesque" visual style that draws from early cinema and slapstick and stands markedly apart from later, "classical" stylistic conventions. His is a manner of filmmaking that values space over time and simultaneity over sequence, crafting narrative and meaning through careful arrangement within the frame rather than cuts between frames. Opening up aesthetic possibilities beyond the typical boundaries of the classical Hollywood film, Chaplin’s filmmaking would profoundly influence directors from Fellini to Truffaut. To view Chaplin seriously as a director is to re-understand him as an artist and to reconsider the nature and breadth of his legacy.


About the Author

Donna Kornhaber is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin.


"Fascinating"—Andrew O'Hehir, New York Times Book Review

"Kornhaber ... seeks to rehabilitate Chaplin’s reputation as a director, arguing that his style represented a innovative break with classical moviemaking."—The New Yorker

"Ms. Kornhaber does Chaplin a service by laying out a case for his filmmaking art."—Farran Smith Nehme, Wall Street Journal

"The analysis of the films is first rate." —CHOICE

“Donna Kornhaber has altered my perception of Charlie Chaplin as a director. I was among those who loved Chaplin the performer, enjoyed the evident craftsmanship of his films, yet thought of him as a less inventive director than his great colleague Buster Keaton. No more. Kornhaber makes clear how Chaplin’s carefully crafted style is distinct from Hollywood’s classical form. Because she helps the reader understand and truly see Chaplin’s unique filmmaking artistry, Kornhaber gives new meaning to the word ‘Chaplinesque.'”—Jeffrey Couchman, author of The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film