The opening pages of Sunnyside
, the latest work of Glen David Gold, evoke the cinematic imagery of one of D.W Griffith's silent epics. Written in the spirit of E.L Doctorow's Ragtime
, Gold's expansive novel attempts to dissect and fuse together the birth of Hollywood, the escalating events leading to the Great War, and the ascendancy of American capitalism, using a vast array of characters both real and fictional.
The lights dim, the curtains are drawn, and the music picks up; it is Sunday, November 12th, 1916. The date fades. Crescent City, California, just below the Oregon border. The location fades. Names appear on the screen in ordered intervals and then dissipate in rapid succession introducing the cast of characters, in order of appearance, topped off by the leading luminous presence of Charlie Chaplin as himself.
A menacing ocean...
Beyond the Book
Charlie Chaplin & Sunnyside
Not a whole lot is said about silent films these days. The Age of the Silver Screen seems to be as antiquated as the subject matter of many of its films: the original Ben-Hur
and The Ten Commandments
, and Birth of a Nation
to name a few. The reputed masters of the form could be counted on one hand, and actors and actresses seemed to be re-cast over and over from film to film. But as with any fledgling art form there were great advances and boundless creativity, much of which set the stage for today's blockbusters. One such innovator was Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr.