Corsier-sur-Vevey, Manoir de Ban. Foto/Photo: TES

Chaplin’s World on the shores of Lake Leman

6 June 1944 (D-Day) was not only a day of deliverance for citizens of occupied countries in Western Europe. It was also a moment of hope for actor and film director Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977). Although he was only four days older than the German dictator, he outlived him by over 32 years.

They never met but knew each other rather well. The dictator was fond of (American) films from the interwar period (the period between 1918 and 1939), and Chaplin was the most famous artist of the time.

The closing speech in the Great Dictator

It is unknown whether the dictator also saw the film The Great Dictator (1940). This film was not shown in territories occupied or controlled by The German Reich, but it premiered in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States in 1940.

Even after 1940, Chaplin was committed to liberating Europe from this dictatorship. He lived and worked in America from 1912 and, after 22 June 1941 (the German attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazis’ former ally), committed himself to supporting the Soviet-war effort.

In his films, he mostly engaged with and associated with ‘outcasts’ and was critical of consumer society and unbridled capitalism. However, his support for the Soviet Union was not support for communism but was directed against Germany. Winston Churchill also made that choice (‘If Hitler invaded hell (Soviet Union), I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons’).

For Chaplin, however, the Cold War after 1945 meant accountability for his political views. McCarthyism, caused by global communist aggression, left no room for nuance in America after 1948, and Chaplin left the country in 1952.

He settled with his wife Oona O’Neill (1925-1991) and his (growing) brood of children at the Mansion de Ban (Manoir de Ban) in Corsier-sur-Vevey (canton of Waadt) on Lake Geneva.

Imperial, royal, and aristocratic families, artists, performers, scientists, political exiles, and other celebrities have settled in Switzerland for centuries. Switzerland’s attractiveness lies not only in its democracy, (intellectual) tolerance, culture, nature, landscape, political, monetary, and fiscal system.

Chaplin and many others before and after him particularly appreciated and valued discretion, respect for and with each other, behaviour, and the functioning of society, or, more precisely, the quality of life.

Chaplin enjoyed his park and Lake Geneva and the hospitality he experienced. For example, he regularly lunched in nearby Saint-Saphorin and other villages. Although he hardly spoke French, his meetings with the locals were always cordial.

Chaplin has always been fascinated by the circus and devoted several films to it. Since 1952, he has been present as a guest of honour at Circus Knie performances.

Today, the Mansion is open to the public. It mainly shows Chaplin’s private life from 1952 to 1977.

The nearby museum gives a multifaceted and varied picture of his life and development as an individual, artist, and humanist, from his early years in England to his heyday in America to his last projects and years in Switzerland.

(Source and further information: Chaplin’s World)

Impressions of the Manoir de Ban and the Parc


Impressions of the museum

The introductory movie makes place for the house and street of Chaplin’s youth in  London and the artistic life of Chaplin

Replica from ‘City Lights’ (1931)

Studio and ‘Modern Times’ (1936) in the background