3 Stars

In the last film he made during the silent era, Charlie Chaplin revels in the art of the circus, paying tribute to the acrobats and pantomimists who inspired his virtuoso pratfalls. After being mistaken for a pickpocket, Chaplin’s Little Tramp flees into the ring of a traveling circus and soon becomes the star of the show, falling for the troupe’s bareback rider along the way. Despite its famously troubled production, this gag-packed comedy ranks among Chaplin’s finest, thanks to some of the most audacious set pieces of the director-performer’s career, including a close brush with a lion and a climactic tightrope walk with a barrelful of monkeys. Rereleased in 1969 with a new score by Chaplin, The Circus is an uproarious high-wire act that showcases silent cinema’s most popular entertainer at the peak of his comic powers.


  • Charles Chaplin
  • United States
  • 1928
  • 71 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Silent
    • New 4K digital restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s 1969 rerelease version of the film, featuring an original score by Chaplin, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • New audio commentary featuring Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
    • Interview with Chaplin from 1969
    • 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 effects specialist Craig Barron
    • Chaplin Today: “The Circus,” a 2003 documentary on the film, featuring filmmaker Emir Kusturica
    • Excerpted audio interview with Chaplin musical associate Eric James
    • Unused café sequence with new score by composer Timothy Brock, and related outtakes with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Dan Kamin
    • Newly discovered outtakes featuring the Tramp and the bareback rider
    • Original recording of the film’s opening song, “Swing, Little Girl,” by Ken Barrie
    • Footage of the 1928 Hollywood premiere
    • Rerelease trailers
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Pamela Hutchinson

    New cover by Mark Chiarello

    September 24, 2019

Post Disclaimer

Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.

Published by

Ronald Epstein