The two versions here are Chaplin's own retroactive tampering with his film, adding oodles of unnecessary narration which never tells us anything the images don't. It's strange that Chaplin himself didn't always realize that his was a highly theatrical, demonstrative comic technique of which he is a master, but which holds no element of naturalism whatsoever. Whenever he departed from the silent-film milieu, he never went too far (with the sole exception of Monsieur Verdoux). Chaplin's own dialogue technique is ill suited to film, being too magnanimous and self-conscious; when he employs it in a strange silent-film way (as in the singing sequence of Modern Times, or the "people-talking-gibberish" gag he uses in his later films) he succeeds grandly. When he tries to use sound naturalistically as in the narration here, The Great Dictator and Limelight, he tends to fumble.
Having been shell-shocked by the meddled-with version, I had hopes that the second version on Disc 2, billed as "the original 1925 silent version", would be better. Only marginally: Somehow they felt the need to replace all the titles (yes, the titles matter -- just look at Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo) and, more grievously, redo the score. And this new recording is even more problematic than the overly clean re-recorded orchestral score to the recent DVD re-release of Metropolis.Read more ›