The Charlie Chaplin Collection review

Blu-ray boxset charts the extraordinary feature film career of a Hollywood legend

One of the most important figures in the history of the film industry, Charles Spencer 'Charlie' Chaplin enjoyed a career that spanned some 75 years. In the process he helped define the language of cinema, pioneered technological advances as a filmmaker and co-founded United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to wrest control of their work back from the major studios.

While six of Chaplin's best-known feature films (The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator) were previously released on Blu-ray in the UK by Park Circus back in 2010, Curzon Artificial Eye's new boxset sees them joined by five titles making their hi-def debut (A Woman of Paris, Monsieur Verdoux, Limelight, A King in New York and The Chaplin Revue). Together, it adds up to one of the most impressive and irresistibly amusing bodies of work imaginable.
Movie rating: 4/5

Picture: The six previously-released titles look pretty much identical to Park Circus' Full HD presentations and still hold up well today – even if they aren't always the best version available (the most obvious example being the newer 4K restoration used as the basis for Criterion's 2013 release of City Lights).

Of more interest to Chaplin fans, however, will be the condition of the five titles that are new to Blu-ray. Given its age, it's not surprising that the 1080p presentation of 1923's A Woman of Paris is affected by plenty of scratches and other minor print damage. However, the encode also reveals plenty of fine detail thanks to improved clarity and contrast levels.

Monsieur Verdoux (1947) doesn't fare quite so well, with the application of digital filtering resulting in a drop-off in fine detail. Thankfully, Limelight (1952) sees a return to the sort of quality we've come to expect from the collection, despite boosted brightness levels. The same minor quibble can also be levelled against A King in New York (1957), although the greyscale palette looks slightly more balanced here.

That 1959's The Chaplin Revue looks pretty rough compared to other films of that vintage clearly stems from the fact that it's a compilation of three silent shorts (1918's A Dog's Life and Shoulder Arms, plus 1923's The Pilgrim). Not only is print damage rife due to the condition of the source material used to make the film, there's also a curious white line that appears at the right of the 1.66:1 frame during the credits on the second and third films.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: While all of the films feature restored LPCM 2.0 dual-mono soundtracks, The Gold Rush, Limelight and The Circus also sport DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes. But apart from being louder than the mono tracks and giving the scores a slightly more expansive feel, these offer little over the films' original audio.
Audio ratings: 3.5/5

Extras: The discs boast plenty of extras recycled from the 2003 MK2/Warner Bros. DVDs. These include video intros and Chaplin Today… featurettes for each film, trailers and several silent shorts (upgraded to HD). The only notable omission is the original 1925 silent version of The Gold Rush.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: While not without some flaws, this remains an invaluable Blu-ray boxset for fans of the bigscreen comedy legend

The Charlie Chaplin Collection, Curzon Artificial Eye, Region B BD, £80 approx