For eight months, British sculptor John Doubleday’s work remained hidden behind a wall of ice, at an altitude of 11,332 feet. Today, Doubleday and Charlie Chaplin’s son, Eugene, unveiled an ice statue of Chaplin, one of the most successful comic actors of the 20th century, on the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. The unveiling was part of a series of commemorations that will mark the 40th anniversary of the passing of the movie legend. “My father was probably always a little apprehensive in the lead-up to Christmas, as it seemed to bring up difficult memories of his childhood in London. But Oona used to plan lovely, festive Christmas celebrations and Charlie, although sometimes morose, would play along, dressing up as Father Christmas and distributing presents,” Eugene Chaplin remembers.
This magical unveiling was also attended by children from two classes in Corsier-sur-Vevey and Bönigen, near Interlaken, winners of the “Chaplin competition”. (Jungfrau Railways and Chaplin’s World recently launched a search for the “most creative mosaic on the theme ‘Chaplin on the Jungfraujoch’”, inviting schools in the regions of Jungfrau and Vevey to send in their work.) About 40 children, aged 10 to 12, made the trip to Jungfraujoch decked out in tiny Tramps, right down to the last detail, complete with hats and mustaches.
A film sequence carved in ice
Back in March, Doubleday set to sculpt a statue of Chaplin in the Ice Palace. He meticulously recreated the most famous scene from the silent tragicomedy The Kid, featuring the Tramp and his adopted son. This scene is one of the best known of any filmed by Chaplin. From today on, it will delight visitors to the Jungfraujoch all year round.
Christmas and mountains
With this collaboration, Chaplin’s World and Jungfrau Railway hope to reinforce their global brand images. The time and place of the inauguration of the sculpture were ideally suited: “My father loved the Christmas season, and the Swiss mountains”, Eugene Chaplin added. Both Top of Europe and Chaplin’s World draw in a number of tourists from Asia. “With these cross-marketing events, we hope to attract Swiss visitors as well, and gain greater prominence for both our recreation centers well beyond their linguistic areas”, Urs Kessler, CEO of Jungfrau Railways, stated.
Born in 1947, Doubleday studied sculpture at Goldsmiths College. Ever since his first individual exhibition — at the Waterhouse & Dodd gallery in London, in 1968 — his work has been in high demand. He has created charming statues of the great figures of our time, and several casts of his work are on public display. He has worked in several countries, including China, India, and South Africa. For his sculptures, he chiefly uses bronze, but has also worked in wax, plaster, wood, clay, and ice. He had already worked at the Jungfraujoch, transforming a block of ice more than 6’5” high into a statue of Sherlock Holmes. The statue’s inauguration was set to coincide with events organized by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, which has been making regular pilgrimages to Switzerland since 1968.
Chaplin’s World by Grévin
Nestled between a lake and the surrounding mountain range, five minutes from Vevey, in Switzerland, Chaplin’s World is a fun museum dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, the man and the artist. Designed by Philippe Meylan and Yves Durand, with support from Genii Capital, and stage designed by the Confino Agency and By Grévin, it provides entertainment and culture for the general public. It’s also a cult place for film-lovers and Chaplin fans. The great man’s sense of humour and emotion, which won the hearts of audiences worldwide, is displayed over 3,000 square meters of themed trails at the Manoir de Ban — Chaplin’s home for almost twenty-five years — and its Hollywood-style studio. Chaplin’s World is the fourth international site developed by Grévin.