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Copyright © 1999-2019 by Carl Bennett
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The Circus
(1928)

 

Often overlooked, this Charles Chaplin confection was produced and released between his benchmark films The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). Written, directed and produced by Chaplin, The Circus (1928) stars Chaplin and Merna Kennedy, with able support by Allan Garcia, Harry Crocker, Henry Bergman, John Rand, Steve Murphy and Albert Austin.

The Criterion Collection
2019 Blu-ray Disc edition

The Circus (1928), black & white, 72 minutes, Rated G.

The Criterion Collection, unknown catalog number (spine number 996), unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) 24FPS progressive? scan AVCHD MPEG-4 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, uncompressed 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard BD keepcase, $39.99.
Release date: 24 September 2019.
Country of origin: USA
This Blu-ray Disc edition features a new 4K digital restoration of Charles Chaplin’s 1969 rerelease version of the film.

The film is accompanied by an original score by Chaplin, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack.

The supplementary material includes new audio commentary featuring Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance; an interview with Chaplin from 1969; a new interview with Chaplin’s son Eugene Chaplin; In the Service of the Story, a new program on the film’s visual effects and production design by film scholar Craig Barron; Chaplin Today: The Circus, a 2003 documentary on the film featuring filmmaker Emir Kusturica; an excerpted audio interview from 1998 with Chaplin musical associate Eric James; the café sequence outtake, with new score by composer Timothy Brock, and related outtakes with narration by comedy choreographer Dan Kamin; newly discovered outtakes featuring the Tramp and the circus rider; excerpts from the original recording session for the film’s opening song, “Swing Little Girl”; footage of the film’s 1928 Hollywood premiere; rerelease trailers; and an essay by critic Pamela Hutchinson.

This is bound to be our recommended home video edition of The Circus.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
The Criterion Collection
2019 DVD edition

The Circus (1928), black & white, 72 minutes, Rated G.

The Criterion Collection, unknown catalog number (spine number 996), unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) progressive? scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 24 September 2019.
Country of origin: USA
This DVD edition features a new 4K digital restoration of Charles Chaplin’s 1969 rerelease version of the film.

The film is accompanied by an original score by Chaplin, in glorious monaural sound.

The supplementary material includes new audio commentary featuring Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance; an interview with Chaplin from 1969; a new interview with Chaplin’s son Eugene Chaplin; In the Service of the Story, a new program on the film’s visual effects and production design by film scholar Craig Barron; Chaplin Today: The Circus, a 2003 documentary on the film featuring filmmaker Emir Kusturica; an excerpted audio interview from 1998 with Chaplin musical associate Eric James; the café sequence outtake, with new score by composer Timothy Brock, and related outtakes with narration by comedy choreographer Dan Kamin; newly discovered outtakes featuring the Tramp and the circus rider; excerpts from the original recording session for the film’s opening song, “Swing Little Girl”; footage of the film’s 1928 Hollywood premiere; rerelease trailers; and an essay by critic Pamela Hutchinson.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Park Circus
2010 Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition

The Circus (1928), black & white, 69 minutes, BBFC Classification U.

Park Circus, PCB0018, UPC 5-060203-34018-6.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region B Blu-ray Disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (? x ? pixels) 24FPS progressive scan AVCHD MPEG-4 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; and one single-sided, dual-layered, Region 2 PAL DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (? x ? pixels) progressive? scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; two-disc BD keepcase in cardboard slipcover, £19.99.
Release date: 15 November 2010.
Country of origin: Scotland
This UK dual-format Blu-ray Disc / PAL DVD edition of The Kid, from a Scottish distribution company and produced for home video by MK2, features a new high-definition video transfer from 35mm print materials controlled by the Estate of Charles Chaplin.

The film is presented with the established music score composed by Charles Chaplin.

The disc’s supplemental material includes an introduction by David Robinson, outtakes from The Circus, and a photo gallery.

Other than its HD transfer, and this edition being nearly identical in content to the 2004 Warner Home Video edition noted below, owners of that edition may not feel the need to acquire this Park Circus edition. This edition, currently the only high-quality edition in print, is recommended for those who want to add the film to their collection now.

North American collectors will need a Region B or region-free Blu-ray Disc player and/or a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click to buy this Region B Blu-ray Disc / Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Warner Home Video
2004 DVD edition

The Circus (1928), black & white, 69 minutes, Rated G,
with Circus Days (1923) [exerpts], black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Warner Home Video, 37644,
UPC 0-85393-76442-5, ISBN 0-7907-7161-6.
Two single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai and Korean language subtitles, 20 chapter stops; two plastic DVD trays on cardboard wrap in cardboard slipcase, $29.95.
Release date: 2 March 2004.
Country of origin: USA

This DVD edition from Warner Home Video is sanctioned by the Estate of Charles Chaplin and was digitally restored from excellent 35mm materials held by the estate. However, we have had problems with the disc displaying properly to a 16:9 high-definition television when played from one of our DVD players. The picture fills the 16:9 monitor in width (already wrong for a 4:3 format picture) and crops the top and bottom of the picture to do so. No amount of manipulation of the picture settings ideally resolves the issue. Other DVD players will not have this problem.

The disc’s supplementary material includes outtakes from The Circus, studio visitor footage, 3D test footage shot by Chaplin’s long-time cameraman, A-B camera footage comparisons, and more.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
CBS/Fox Home Video
2000 DVD edition

The Circus (1928), black & white, 71 minutes, Rated G.

CBS/Fox Home Video, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID9180CUDVD, UPC 0-14381-91802-1.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; snapper DVD case, $29.99.
Release date: 8 February 2000.
Country of origin: USA
We have not viewed this DVD edition, however, we are familiar with this film. The Circus is one of Chaplin’s best films is one not so well known as his other features. We love the tightrope-walking sequence. The disc features an outtake scene.

It appears that the masters from the 1993 Chaplin: A Legacy of Laughter laserdisc series were utilized for this and other year 2000 Chaplin DVD releases. The disc is now contractually out-of-print to make way for the Warner edition noted above.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era CHARLES CHAPLIN films available on home video.
Charles Chaplin filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
 
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