lang : en | fr

Chaplin Quotations


Men who think deeply say little in ordinary conversations.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




There are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.

From “My Autobiography” : “His [Sergei M. Eisenstein] film Ivan the Terrible, which I saw after the Second World War, was the acme of all historical pictures. He dealt with history poetically — an excellent way of dealing with it. When I realize how distorted even recent events have become, history as such only arouses my scepticism. Whereas a poetic interpretation achieves a general effect of the period. After all, there are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.”




I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.

From “My Autobiography”: “I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born. When I confronted Sennett I assumed the character and strutted about, swinging my cane and parading before him. Gags and comedy ideas went racing through my mind.”




That which is apparent ends. That which is subtle is never-ending.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Wisdom usually grows up on us like calluses when we are old, gnarled and bent.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




I've arrived at the age where a platonic friendship can be sustained on the highest moral plane.

Limelight (1952): Calvero (Charles Chaplin) to Terry (Claire Bloom) after the aging clown invites the much-younger dancer to recover in his flat




Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.

Henri Verdoux (Chaplin) says this in Monsieur Verdoux (1947)




In the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.

From “My Autobiography”: “My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.”




Life and death are too resolute, too implacable to be accidental.

From “My Autobiography”: “I once saw on a tombstone in the South of France a photograph of a smiling young girl of fourteen, and engraved below, one word: ‘Pourquoi?’ In such bewilderment of grief it is futile to seek an answer. It only leads to false moralizing and torment – yet it does not mean that there is no answer. I cannot believe that our existence is meaningless or accidental, as some scientists would tell us. Life and death are too resolute, too implacable to be accidental.”




Let's call them years of a friendly misalliance.

King Shadov (Charles Chaplin) to his estranged wife, Queen Irene (Maxine Audley), on the state of their broken marriage in A King in New York (1957)




Faith is a precursor of all our ideas.

From “My Autobiography”: “As I grow older I am becoming more preoccupied with faith. We live by it more than we think and achieve by it more than we realize. I believe that faith is a precursor of all our ideas. Without faith, there never could have evolved hypothesis, theory, science or mathematics. I believe that faith is an extension of the mind. It is the key that negates the impossible. To deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces.”




Art was an additional emotion applied to skillful technique.

From “My Autobiography”: “It seems that each time art is discussed I have a different explanation of it. Why not? That evening I said that art was an additional emotion applied to skilful technique. Someone brought the topic round to religion and I confessed I was not a believer. Rachmaninov quickly interposed: ‘But how can you have art without religion?’
I was stumped for a moment. ‘I don’t think we are talking about the same thing,’ I said. ‘My concept of religion is a belief in a dogma — and art is a feeling more than a belief.’
`So is religion,’ he answered. After that I shut up.”




I have yet to know a poor man who has nostalgia for poverty.

From My Autobiography: “I have yet to know a poor man who has nostalgia for poverty, or who finds freedom in it …
I found poverty neither attractive nor edifying. It taught me nothing but a distortion of values, an over-rating of the virtues and graces of the rich and the so-called better classes.”




A man's true character comes out when he's drunk.

Calvero (Charles Chaplin) to Terry (Claire Bloom) after she finds him drunk with friends in Limelight (1952)




The world cannot be wrong if in this world there's you.

From “This is My Song”. Music and lyrics by Charles Chaplin for The Countess from Hong Kong




I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat [...] Everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.

From “My Autobiography” : “I had no idea what make-up to put on. I did not like my get-up as the press reporter. However, on the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. I wanted everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small moustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression.”




A man is what a woman makes him and a woman makes herself.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




This is a ruthless world and one must be ruthless to cope with it.

From a scene in Monsieur Verdoux




I am an individual and a believer in liberty.

In response to journalists for comments on United States Attorney-General’s announcement to revoke his re-entry visa, September 23, 1952 (quoted in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/century/1950-1959/Story/0,,105162,00.html): “I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have. On the other hand I am not a super-patriot. Super -patriotism leads to Hitlerism - and we’ve had our lesson there. I don’t want to create a revolution - I just want to create a few more films.”




I'm an old sinner. Nothing shocks me.

From Limelight (1952): Calvero (Charles Chaplin) to Terry (Claire Bloom) as he tries to learn if she has a venereal disease.