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Chaplin in colour in Cannes

Charlie Chaplin was a screen legend. www.folkstory.com

The first colour footage of the silent movie legend, Charlie Chaplin, has been screened at the annual Cannes film festival in France.

This content was published on May 18, 2002 - 10:34

The film, containing footage of Chaplin on the set of his film "The Great Dictator", was discovered in the cellar of his Swiss home in Corsier sur Vevey earlier this year.

The movie shows Chaplin dancing with actress Grace Hale and includes shots of Chaplin relaxing in between takes. The black-and-white film, which premiered in 1940, was a satire of Nazi Germany, in which Chaplin poked fun at Adolf Hitler.

Suitcase discovery

The film reel was discovered by Chaplin's children in a suitcase in the family's home in western Switzerland, where it had lain undisturbed since the film star's death in 1977.

"When my sister found the trunk, it was full of 16mm films," says Chaplin's daughter, Geraldine Chaplin. "My sister thought it was home movies. She couldn't believe it when it was colour footage of "The Great Dictator", which Uncle Sidney had filmed when he had been on the set."

The family find was premièred in Cannes on Thursday evening. After the showing, Ms Chaplin said it was "great" to see her father on the silver screen again, but that she couldn't get used to seeing him in colour.

She added that other unseen footage may well be discovered as the family trawl through their recent find, which also includes footage of Chaplin at home playing with his children.

DVD release

For the moment, though, the family has brokered a deal with Warner Bros to release 18 of Chaplin's films, along with the newly discovered footage on DVD.

"I am one of eight children," said Ms Chaplin. "We were all fighting between ourselves over what to do with his films. Then we were given the chance to bring them out on DVD - and we all agreed. Now everyone will be able to have copies of his work."

The digitally re-mastered DVD set will be available next Spring and will include Chaplin greats such as "The Kid" made in 1921, "The Gold Rush" from 1925 and "City Lights" from 1931.

In the meantime "The Great Dictator" is being re-released in cinemas across France later this year.

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