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28 June 2011

[Silent Film Marathon] 18# City Lights (1931)

Directed & written by: Charlie Chaplin
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Genre: Romance, Comedy

In 1931, sound films where at the point the new way of films, but Chaplin stuck by silent films for just a while yet, and out came City Lights, a charming and sincere comedy film. Starring once more the classic character the tramp this Chaplin film was equally as charming as it was funny. As a comedy it certainly compares to other comedies out there –and certainly outlives many of the newest ones around-. City Lights is easily one of the greatest silent films and all because of Chaplin’s marvellous writing, acting and of course, directing. It’s got plenty of good moments and the occasional use of comic sounds and it’s overall a beautiful film. It’s great that Charlie Chaplin stuck with silent films just a while longer, and five years after this film would go on to having his last, being Modern Times. It’s truly a comical masterpiece and is much more than just a comedy; it’s a wonderful drama and romance story.


Once more casted as The Tramp, our character meets a blind flower girl, and through a series of coincidences has gotten the impression that the shabby tramp is a millionaire. A second storyline begins when the tramp encounters a millionaire himself who is only recognised by him when he is drunk. So with these two plots, the tramp tries to raise money for the blind girl to have an eye operation. The highlights include the tramp in a boxing match, and the final scene where the tramp meets the blind girl once more who at this point, can now see.


the tramp and the blind girl.
The film opens with our tramp sleeping on a new monument being given to a city, and soon after he encounters the blind girl whom he buys a flower from. It is almost love at first sight (for the tramp that is) when the tramp meets her as he stays to watch her. The Tramp’s whole journey is wild, funny and heart-warming.  City Lights is a mix of comedy and romance which makes it one of the most perfect comedy films. The Tramp gets into so many different predicaments throughout the story. The film, like most silent films, had sudden flashes of written dialogue. City Lights only had a few of them which I actually enjoyed because it didn't have to base itself on lines. The tramp also encounters a rich man about to commit suicide by throwing himself into a river, but the tramp stops him, telling him “Tomorrow, the birds will sing”. As I said, the drunk and suicidal man only recognises the tramp when he is drunk and it’s really funny seeing them together. I love the scene when they go out together in the night, where the tramp ends up eating confetti instead of spaghetti, and other funny happenings.


The acting was terrific, and not only Chaplin was the highlight acting. The blind girl was played wonderfully and the eccentric rich man was hilarious too. Another thing that I loved was the music. It was extremely well done and was very in sync with the actions of the actors. The music in our first moments is little kazoo sounds to a man speaking (the scene with the monument). One of the film’s finest moments was the boxing scene where the tramp must fight a big tough guy. Being small and weak, but high in agility the tramp dodges him swiftly. It was a very well-co-ordinated scene and Chaplin’s clever and athletic ability. So overall the acting was superb and the music was terrific.


Chaplin is certainly one of the greatest directors (and actors might I add) there is with almost every single one of his films being brilliant. City Lights was one of his last silent features but with his clever and legendary writing, Chaplin pulled it off with great critical response. Since then the film has been loved and cherished and is among the best silent films for sure. There is no doubt that when City Lights ends, you'll feel very positive. From start to finish, it is packed with happiness that will easily fill you. This is and will always be a masterpiece that will not be forgotten.  Overall City Lights is charming as it is funny.

My Rating: 9/10

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