Feature Comedy | 1910 | Sound | B/W
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- Chaplin's film with World War One as topic. Charlie as American soldier in the trenches. He volunteers for a special mission. Camouflage as a tree; chasing, and finally he manages to imprison the Kaiser and to drive him on the allied side. - In the end it was all a dream.
A line of soldiers, presenting their rifles. On the left: Charlie. Order: rifles down. Chaplin hits the foot of the soldier next to him. Order: rifles on the shoulder. Chaplin tries several times, but doesn't get it really right. Order: turn! Charlie turns the wrong direction. He has to practice alone. the officer shows him how to do it. Chaplin twists his legs, finally manages to turn, nearly losing the balance. Walking on the spot. Charlie doesn't manage to keep his feet aligned. Soldiers march away; he walks on the spot, notices, runs after them. Marching on the street, to the tents. "In France". Battlefield, destroyed buildings. In the trenches. Charlie, smoking, walking along a trench called "Broadway". Small explosion directly behind him. Dead end. Another soldier shows him the way. Charlie goes back. - In the quarters (in the trenches). Two soldiers, one playing mouth organ. Charlie knocks. The soldier playing mouth organ stops and goes out. Examines Charlie and his gear (e.g. a mousetrap). Charlie tries to go into the quarters or dug-out, gets stuck. Soldier takes some bundles off Charlie, pushes and kicks him in. Inside. Charlie puts his gear down, nails a grater to the wall and rubs his back against it. He sits on his bed (lower part of a two-story bed), rubs his back against the beard of the soldier sleeping on the upper bed. "Peaceful breakfast". Charlie eats a sandwich. Explosions behind him. He ignores them and grins at the soldier next to him who gets up: "Come on, back to work!" Charlie stands up, takes his rifle and stands on guard. Explosions behind him move his helmet. He adjusts it (several times). He looks at his number plate: "13. Does it mean luck?" Charlie on guard in the rain. Walks up and down. Split screen: on the right side Charlie. On the left his thoughts: Broadway, New York. A bartender. "finally: relief". Another guard arrives. "Password: It rains." Charlie goes back into the quarters and has some problems at the entrance because of his rifle. Inside (water pours in...) He moves in a military way, lies down on his bed and kicks by mistake the soldier sleeping on the bed at the foot end of Charlie's bed. Soldier gets up. "Mail from America." Soldier with bundles of mail arrives and hands them to the soldiers. Goes into Charlie's quarters. Charlie, excited, takes the bundles and hands them to the corresponding colleagues - but nothing for him. He runs after the postman soldier, then, disappointed, returns into his quarters, sits down sadly on his bed. The other two soldiers eat what they got in their parcels; Charlie takes the piece of cheese out of the mousetrap and eats it. Soldier offers him a part of his food, but Charlie declines and leaves. In the trenches Charlie leans to a wall. In front of him a soldier reading a letter. Charlie starts reading it, too, over the soldier's shoulder. They both laugh. They both are startled. They both are relieved. - Finally, the soldier notices that Charlie reads his letter and turns away. Goes away. Charlie sits down. Is sad. But then he gets a parcel at last: "For you", the postman soldier says. Charlie opens the parcel: A box of obviously stale biscuits, a Camembert. Charlie opens the box, smells, closes it immediately. Puts on his gas mask. Awfully smelly cheese, still. Charlie throws the cheese away. It lands on the face of another officer in a different trench. Charlie goes back to his quarters that are full of water (slightly above the height of the lower beds). Soldiers sleep; the one in the lower bed is covered with water, only head and feet stick out, and he has a frog on his toes. In the upper bed, three soldiers are cramped together (because it is dry there). Charlie yawns, arranges pillow and quilt (under water) and lies down into the water in his bed. His neighbour (only face visible now, rest under water) snores. Charlie makes waves with his hand. Soldier wakes up. "Stop, you will knock over the huts!" He lies down again. A board with a burning candle floats past. Charlie blows it under the soldier's feet, soldier jumps up, shouts a bit, blows the board away, lies down again. Charlie too, but as his head is under water, he cannot breathe. He takes the loudspeaker of a gramophone and sticks it into his mouth, lies down and breathes through it. - The trenches, guards in the rain. - Charlie wakes up, shivering. He rubs his foot (sitting in the water). Takes other foot, rubs it, notices that he doesn't feel anything... the soldier next to him wakes up: it's his foot. Charlie rubs his own foot. They wake up the other soldiers on the upper bed. - Outside: a soldier runs around excitedly, then into Charlie's quarters. "Attack in 15 minutes!" Soldiers take their rifles and rush out. Charlie misses the exit and knocks his head at the wall. Outside; soldiers in arms, waiting. Explosion on the battlefield. Charlie looks at his identification no. (13). Impacts in the trenches. Charlie throws a coin and doesn't seem to be pleased by the result. He takes out a mirror and arranges his hair. Walks up and down, restlessly. Officer looking at his watch: six minutes to five. Soldiers and Charlie smoke. Impacts. Charlie is hit, but not hurt: his mirror is broken. Soldiers get ready at the ladders. Charlie pushes them away to be the first one; he poses heroically. The attack starts. Charlie jumps on the ladder... that falls down. All the other soldiers but one leave. Charlie climbs up again, then changes his mind and asks the other soldier to go first. Smoke in the trenches. Charlie climbs up the ladder. Smoke. - Charlie returns with two captured German soldiers, the helmets stuck on his rifle. "Poor France." Shots of destroyed buildings. A woman sitting in front of a destroyed building. Bricks fall down. "You mustn't bother." Charlie and fellow soldier having lunch in the trenches, they ignore the impacts and the smoke around them. Talk vividly. Charlie opens a bottle by holding it up above the trenches: the bottleneck is shot away. Charlie pours the contents into two cups; they drink. Soldier hands Charlie a cigarette. Charlie lights it by holding it up above the trenches. He smokes. Looks out with a periscope. Takes his rifle, aims, shoots. Draws a line on a board (hit). Shoots again, draws another line. Again. Again, a fourth line. Aims - and his helmet is shot away. he wipes off the fourth line. Aims again... fourth line. Again: fifth line. Soldier looks in the air. Charlie too. An aircraft. Charlie takes his rifle, shoots. Aircraft going down. Soldier and Charlie following with their eyes. Charlie draws another line on the board. "We need volunteers!" Six soldiers offer themselves to volunteer. Charlie is chosen. He is proud, the others are annoyed. "It's nearly sure that you won't come back. Brave man!" Charlie isn't so proud anymore and suggests to choose his companion. But the companion doesn't want anymore. The officer leaves, the soldiers congratulate Charlie. "A wise camouflage" Charlie dressed in a tree costume; bushes and grass around him. He walks with difficulties. German soldiers approach. Charlie stands still, lifting his arms to form branches. The group of German soldiers splits, most of them march past, three sit down nearby. Charlie slowly turns, spots the three soldiers and stands still again. The soldiers want to make a fire, but there's no firewood left in the bucket. One of them is sent off with an axe. He goes to a large tree next to Charlie, looks up the tree, then sees the small tree (Charlie) and decides to cut it / him down. He takes long preparations (spitting in his hands, rubbing them etc.) that Charlie uses to knock him down with one of his branches. The soldier gets up, puzzled, and is knocked down again. A fellow soldier sees him lying on the ground (the third one is sleeping), runs to him... and is knocked down by Charlie, too. The third one... sees the first two lying on the ground, runs to them and is knocked down, too. Charlie is relieved, walks around, then runs away. "His companion in mission". A small bridge; hiding underneath Charlie's companion. He digs with his hand in the sand underneath the bridge and takes out headphones and telegraph. A group of five German soldiers approaches and stops on the bridge to discuss. The schedule book of the officer falls down, and he asks a soldier to pick it up. Soldier climbs down into the ditch and spots Charlie's companion. He is arrested, slapped in the face and led away. - Charlie as a tree, walking. Sees German soldiers arriving, stands still. Three German soldiers, leading the prisoner, making him stand next to a tree, stepping back to execute him. Of course they step back to another tree that happens to be Charlie... Charlie knocks down the soldiers, his companion runs away. Two German soldiers follow him while Charlie is struggling with the third one. Charlie runs away (still in the tree costume), soldier chases him, shoots at him. German soldier in a forest... lots of tree that could be Charlie. Soldier runs around, helpless. He fixes the bayonet to his rifle, runs on. More trees. He shoots at a tree and knocks against it, but it is a real tree. The tree that is Charlie (well made: you don't spot him before he moves) knocks down the soldier and runs away. Soldier after him. Charlie running slalom along a line of trees, then standing still (=becoming a tree). German soldier, looking for Charlie, running past him. Charlie runs in the opposite direction; the soldier spots him, chases him. German soldier and Charlie running slalom along a line of trees. Soldier sticks his bayonet in a tree, Charlie knocks him down, runs away onto a meadow. Hides in a pipe. - [a few seconds missing here] - Charlie, without the tree costume, in front of a ruined house with door but without wall. He enters through the door and locks it (quite useless...). He runs up the stairs into the first floor (no front wall, neither). He looks out of the window, closes it and draws down the blinds (again, rather useless). Then, relaxed, he lies down on the bed. The woman (we've seen her before in this film) enters her house, climbs upstairs and sees the sleeping Charlie on the bed. She is moved and a bit frightened, sits down on the bed, takes his injured hand and cleans it with her head scarf. Charlie wakes up but pretends to be still asleep. He is fascinated by the woman, and puts his hand back on her knee whenever it falls down. The woman notices eventually, and Charlie sits up. They talk; but Charlie doesn't understand. "French?" Pantomime: She is afraid that he is German, but he assures that he is American. Woman is happy. - The bad German soldier enters the house. - Charlie and woman flirt. - Soldier hears them, leaves the house, bangs the door. Charlie and woman are startled, woman goes down to look what happened. German soldiers come in and ask if she has seen a small enemy soldier... she shakes her head. then gives a vague direction. Charlie, upstairs, bangs by accident a pitcher against the wall, it crashes. The soldiers become suspicious, but go away. Charlie is very embarrassed. Woman rushes upstairs. Flirting. The soldiers come in again, carrying a small cannon and adjusting it behind the stairs. Charlie, expressing his thanks, goes downstairs. The Germans, grinning. Charlie sneaks downstairs, then turns and realizes that a cannon on a tripod is pointed at him. With a sudden movement he spins the cannon round - now it is pointed at the Germans... another German soldier enters, tries to hold Charlie. A struggle, Charlie runs upstairs. The soldiers after him. Charlie jumps down and runs away; the first floor with the Germans collapses. One of them holds his head and decides to lay down on the bed. - The woman is arrested and led into the German quarters. Soldiers stand guard at the walls, and a very mean looking superior, smoking, sits at the table. He stands up and sends the other soldiers out. One of them makes faces at the French girl before he leaves. The mean superior approaches the woman... Charlie, still fleeing, creeps into a hole in the wall. Superior and woman, struggling. Charlie slides down into the fireplace, burns his bottom at a kettle on the fire. He takes the glowing poker and sticks it at the German soldier who is struggling with the girl (<- Charlie arrived in the German quarters). Charlie knocks down the German soldier who collapses into a cupboard. Charlie closes the cupboard and locks it, gives the key to the girl. About twenty German soldiers in front of the building. Charlie and girl are startled. Soldiers form a lane; a car arrives. Charlie points to the fireplace (to hide) - A German soldier climbs into the hole in the wall and comes down to the fireplace, but is made to climb out again by Charlie who pokes at him with the glowing poker. "The Kaiser visits the front". Kaiser descends the car. Charlie hides in the cupboard. German soldier climbs through the fireplace, goes to the girl... then he has to form a lane because the Kaiser enters the building (accompanied by two high ranking officers). The girl, frightened. Kaiser asks: "Where is the officer on guard?" He sees the key to the cupboard in her hands, looks to the cupboard. "He is in the cupboard?" Charlie, dressed as German officer, leaves the cupboard. They take him for a German officer. He is led to the car, the girl is coming with them. Outside. Charlie is startled when the German soldiers present their rifles, but recovers and walks to the car. Walks up and down, waiting. Lights a cigarette. Argues with the driver who is worried about the car. "His companion has been arrested again." German soldiers bring Charlie's companion. The companion recognizes Charlie in the German uniform and is about to undiscover the secret to the Germans (because he is so surprised), so Charlie plays the "bad German" and slaps his companion several times in the face. He sends the guards away. All of the soldiers, too. While they march away he strangles his companion in order to prove that he is German. As soon as they are away he stops; he and his companion shake hands and embrace. The driver looks suspiciously. Charlie strangles the companion again, leads him away and lets him go. On of the two drivers gets out of the car, is suspecting... Charlie and companion strangle him, gag him and lead him away around the corner. The other driver gets out, doesn't see Charlie, prisoner and the first driver anymore. He grips the girl. Charlie comes back, points a gun at his head, leads him away. "A keen plan". Girl and companion return, dressed as German drivers. The real drivers, tied, in a corner. Charlie sends his companion into the car, then takes some oil from the wheels and draws the girl a moustache in the face. She kisses him, leaving marks of the moustache on his cheek. - The Kaiser and two officers are in the car. Charlie closes the door, they drive off. - "A communication line of the Allied forces." German soldiers use the telegraph under the bridge. Soldiers on the allied side receive the message (?) and jump up. - The car, driving bends around German guards. - Allied soldiers, cheering. - The car arrives on the allied side. "A hero." Charlie and woman are carried on the allied soldiers' shoulders as heros. "Unfortunately, it was only a dream." Charlie, on a stretcher in a tent, is waked up by two fellow soldiers (rather roughly). "The End."
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