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Italy’s Cinteca Di Bologna archives, in charge of the preservation and restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s artistic works, published a book that for the first time unearths the final version of Chaplin’s complete “The Freak” script.
Chaplin passed away on Christmas Day in 1977, leaving behind the screenplay for “The Freak,” a passion project about a young woman with wings named Serapha who is exploited in all kinds of ways.
Cinteca Di Bologna’s book is published in Italian before being presented to international publishers. It includes unseen materials such as preparatory notes, drawings, photos and stills from filmed rehearsals of the movie described by Gianluca Farinelli, Bologna archives chief, as Chaplin’s “artistic testament.”
Cineteca di Bologna book “The Freak” that took 10 years of work, was assembled by Bologna’s Cecilia Cenciarelli, who has been working with the Chaplin Archive for years, and found the materials among the papers of Chaplin producer Jerry Epstein.
Cenciarelli worked on the book in close collaboration with Victoria Chaplin, who in a conversation chapter provides insights and personal testimony on the project, as does principal art director Gerald Larn, during preparation of the film.
Kate Guyonvarch, managing director of the Paris-based Chaplin Office that licenses Chaplin rights worldwide, also collaborated closely on the project.
Farinelli calls “The Freak,” which lashes out against the almighty power of money, the growing impact of advertising and media culture, and even the rise of religious fanaticism, a “very powerful story.”
Farinelli notes that Chaplin’s final project is also very rooted in 1969, the year the script is dated, and points out that “The Freak” is the first Chaplin film in which a woman is both the protagonist and the “only positive character.”
The film, which was meant to star Chaplin’s then young daughter Victoria as the lead, features rape, murder and the girl’s death in the Atlantic Ocean, as Serapha tries to return to Patagonia.
There was also a small cameo for Chaplin himself as an incredulous drunk who watches her fly above him in the London sky.