Charlie Chaplin Returns to Bali

posted in: Press Release

Denpasar, 12 August 2008.
Guests were treated to a walk down memory lane and peep into the rare footage of famous film pioneer and comedian Charlie Chaplin’s visit to Bali in 1932. Secured from the Chaplin Association (Paris) by the Bali Taksu Indonesia Foundation, “Charlie in Bali” evening at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay on 9 August 2008 was an opportunity to view excerpts of this early documentary and contribute to educating fledgling Indonesian film-makers.

Bali Taksu Indonesia Foundation held the event to raise funds for the educational programs of the BALINALE International Film Festival ( held on Bali from 21 to 31 October 2008. These programs will be launched with a workshop for high school students at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, followed by seminars and discussions held over the course of ten days to include Les Guthman, producer, and Explorers Club Film Festival director, Gaylene Preston, acclaimed NZ film writer/director/producer, and Catherine Madigan, NZ film producer and director.

When Charlie Chaplin arrived in Bali in 1932 he was the world’s most renowned cinema artist. His presence in Bali excited no undue attention as the modern world of electricity and the silver screen was yet to make its appearance in Bali. In what was to become time-honoured Bali tradition, Charlie’s one-week holiday soon stretched into two. He ran into Al Hirschfeld, the well known American caricaturist, who had drawn him before from the screen, but never “from life’. Al and his friend Walter Spies first introduced Charlie to Balinese music and dance.

Charlie found the Balinese very receptive to comedy and on several occasions was said to have amused them with his own unique brand of humour. The New York Herald, in June 1932, described him as watching two girls learning to dance. “When they finished, Chaplin picked up a pair of wings used in the dances and started doing an imitation of a bird flying. In a few minutes, the bird tired, did a “Leon Errol”, and finally, completely overbalanced, fell on its back with feet high in the air. The natives were hilarious and for the remainder of the day Chaplin had an admiring group clinging to his hands.”

In the same newspaper article his visit was recorded as having a profound effect upon him. “Although his visit to Bali was solely for pleasure, Chaplin from long years of association with the cinema industry, could not refrain from seeing things with an eye to the camera, and expressed amazement that the wealth of material Bali offers had not been more exploited. In his next picture, Chaplin said he would desert straight pantomime in a way that would be surprising.”

Charlie Chaplin actually wrote several pages of a script called ‘Bali’, which was never realised.

BALINALE is calling for submissions for films in 5 categories – Feature films (international), Documentary films (Indonesian & international) and Short Films (Indonesian & international).