The Price of Fame
It may sound unbelievable to those who don’t know the story, but back in the 70s two desperate men stole the coffin of Charlie Chaplin in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, intending to ransom it.
Eddy Ricaart (Benoit Poelvoorde) and Osman Bricha (Roschdy Zem) are long-time friends who haven’t seen each other since Eddy went to prison. Osman’s wife is in hospital, living the anguish of not being able to afford the necessary treatment to survive.
What sounded like a crazy idea to allow them to escape their squalid conditions (sharing a shed and a caravan with Osman’s little daughter) becomes their actual get-out plan: one night, they go to Vevey’s cemetery and steal Chaplin’s coffin.
Eddy is a crook, Osman is a working-class immigrant. Neither is professional enough to deal with this situation and the police capture them with ease.
The life of “The Tramp” was a never-ending performance – everything was staged and studied to impress: his appearance, his lifestyle and even his house. Funnily enough, his death also appeared to be staged thanks to these two men, and Chaplin’s family decided not to press charges, even paying for treatment for Osman’s wife.
Xavier Beauvois’ movie is based on actual facts, with very limited dramatisation. The village is the actual village, the graveyard is where he is buried and the house was his actual home.
The film is a tribute to one of the most groundbreaking and communicative artists of the past century; although the star is famous for silent movies, The Price of Fame features a very strong and present soundtrack, to which images sometimes seem ancillary.
French directors are masters at finding the perfect balance between drama and comedy in cinema, and this work is no exception.
The UK release date for The Price of Fame is yet to be announced.
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