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Charlie Chaplin and the making of Hollywood

New course for 2021. 

Hollywood was in its infancy when Charles Chaplin arrived at the Sennett Studios in 1914. Within two years, under his own steam, he became the world’s first megastar and together with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks established United Artists in 1920.

This course traces the early life and development of the comic genius of the twentieth century through to the end of the silent era. It is set against the phenomenal growth of the American film industry and lasting impact of Chaplin’s life and art upon the world.

It goes deeper than the knock about comedian, pantomime artist and Little Tramp that we see in his early short films. We see the development of memorable cinema in feature length comic dramas such as ‘The Kid’ (1921), ‘The Gold Rush’ (1925), ‘City Lights’ (1931) to his great message of conscience in ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940). It is ultimately in these productions that the great artistry of Chaplin is fully revealed and celebrated by world audiences of all languages and cultures.

In addition, his pivotal role in the development of Hollywood itself between the wars, from silence to sound, from black and white to colour, from small to large studios, and from personality to personality forms a fascinating background to the Chaplin era.

The course includes the viewing of documentary footage, film classics as well as reading, discussion, presentations, and on the spot research into his life and times, his work on set in the 1930’s and his films from this period.

Summer School classes for mature and senior travellers

Odyssey offers a collection of week-long learning programs offered each January in Hobart, Tasmania.  Courses are refreshed for each year’s programs. Classes are limited to 15 people.

Over the last twenty-five years, Odyssey’s small group Summer School Program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we prepare and offer fun and challenging special interest courses and programs designed to give travellers the options and opportunity to learn about history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics. These courses are designed in such a way that enthusiasts can deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings on a subject.

These programs offered are tailor-made for mature-aged and senior travellers who are eager to explore in-depth a particular topic. Summer school learning programs for mature and senior travellers who are and remain curious about the world. Read more about our philosophy of the Odyssey Summer Schools.

PDF of Tour

Overview: The Summer school program  begins with a welcome reception and dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar

Overview: CHAPLIN: THE EARLY YEARS 1890-1920

Central to this course is the question of how we may define genius using Chaplin as a case in point. So we begin by looking at his early life of bitter poverty and hardship in the downtrodden tenements of South London with occasional access to bit jobs in the Music Halls across the Westminster Bridge in the East End. We look for clues of his future brilliance in his early life and then we see it unfold between 1914 and 1920 in the explosion of the new art form of cinema in what becomes Hollywood.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar


We examine selections of his best short films from around 1917 to 1920 that gradually see the broader and deeper use of cinema as an art form and much more than pantomime or frolic. We continue with a matching of personal, business and Hollywood magic. It ends with his first famous full-length inspiration ‘The Kid’ (1921). This is his last movie for First National Release before filming for United Artists which he had established with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar


Chaplin’s personal life undergoes many challenges in the rage of twenties Hollywood culminating with health concerns. His creative powers nonetheless result in the much celebrated ‘The Gold Rush’  (1925) where his true genius emerges in great and hilarious moments of both pathos and humour. With the release of ‘The Circus’ (1929) to great acclaim, the decade concludes with an Academy Award nomination and an antidote of laughter as the Great Depression takes hold.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar


As sound takes over in the thirties, Chaplin goes on to write, produce, direct, perform and add the music to two great silent movies. His sweet romantic story of the blind girl and the Tramp in ‘City Lights’ (1931) is followed by ‘Modern Times’ (1936) considered still as one of the funniest films ever made. In between these productions, Chaplin travels for the second time to England, Europe and South East Asia.

We watch Charlie at work through documentary footage as he composes a famous scene from City Lights and see it played out as one of the most celebrated final scenes in movie history.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar


We complete the course by witnessing Chaplin as the Little Fellow speak for the first time on screen playing dual roles as a returned soldier, a Jewish barber and as ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940) where he imitates and lampoons Hitler.

We begin the day by discussing the motivation for politically motivated themes between the Depression and Second World War in the Hollywood setting. Then we conclude by watching elements of the Chaplin’s making of a movie that turns to sound, political satire and a universal message.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart or similar

Overview: The course will end after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 6 nights in full en suite accommodation
  • 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 2 dinners.
  • Lectures and handouts as indicated.
  • Services of a study leader and lecturers.
  • Complimentary wifi.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Costs of a personal nature.
Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times movie scene
Charlie Chaplin - His New Job movie scene
Charlie Chaplin portrait
Charlie Chaplin in the movie The Kid
The Vagabond movie poster
The circus movie poster
The Kid movie poster