Images of Dead People … ‘Lenin’ and ‘Charlie Chaplin’ …

On two occasions over the last couple of weeks have had the pleasure to document ‘dead people’ – two infamous characters from the last century – one a political figure who changed the World … the other a silent film actor who forever changed the film industry.

Of course … I didn’t dig ’em up. Both were highly convincing re-creations by talented Cairns artists.

‘Lenin’ (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) survived assassination attempts before dying of a brain haemorrhage in January 1924 (a little before my time 😉).

However, a portrayal of the Marxist and father of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party by vastly experienced Cairns actor Peter Merrill brought him back from the grave. Peter plays the ’Lenin’ lead in ‘Petrograd Express’ … a new play by Ken Cotterill which opens in Cairns at the Rondo Theatre this month. The title ‘Petrograd Express’ refers to Lenin’s 1917 train journey from exile in Switzerland, across hostile Germany, back to Russia to seize power from the government and declare a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. The train journey by the architect of the Bolshevik Revolution set in motion events that forever changed Russia and modern history.

I made this portrait (top) of Lenin/Peter for the local Cairns Post newspaper.

A week later I found myself portraying ‘Charlie Chaplin’ … brought back to life by amazin’ Kuranda performer (and friend) Danny Simony.

Englishman Chaplin … a comic actor, filmmaker and composer during the silent film era … became a World wide icon through his screen persona. A perfectionist … Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his many films.

My portrait of Charlie/Danny (bottom) was made for the now regular Sunday Mail newspaper feature ‘Larrikins of Queensland’. Danny … also a perfectionist and an exceptional talent at comedy, mime, pick pocketing and more … told the story of how he travelled from his birth place of Paris to Australia via India and Nepal decades ago and then forged a career in Cairns as the cities favourite entertainer and ‘Queensland Larrikin’.

Images © Brian Cassey

Portraits of Dead People - Lenin (Peter Merrill) and 'Charlie Chaplin' (Danny Simony' by Brian Cassey.

Portraits of Dead People - Lenin (Peter Merrill) and 'Charlie Chaplin' (Danny Simony' by Brian Cassey.