Monday, July 12, 2010

CITY LIGHTS (Charles Chaplin, 1931, USA)

From the gutter to the glitter of city lights, a lonely vagabond discovers that love is blind. Perhaps Charles Chaplin’s greatest achievement, CITY LIGHTS is an ode to silent pictures, satirizing the use of spoken dialogue, proving that his universal appeal transcends the barrier of language.

The Little tramp is once again low on luck but full of pride, and through a good deed finds the good life. After saving a wealthy man from suicide (a hilarious gag with a stone tethered to a rope), our poor hero becomes a companion to his benefactor: caveat, the man only recognizes the Tramp when he (the man) is dead drunk. Now that the Tramp has money, he seeks out the flower of his obsession and begins to take care of her, convincing her that he is a rich man. When his benefactor leaves the country and the girl is being evicted, the little fellow takes any available job to earn money for her rent. This includes a side-splitting boxing match that is choreographed like a violent ballet, a pugilistic prance that bruises the funny bone.

The story is full of human grace and humor, much more that a series of slapstick vignettes strung together. This is a love story with moments of comedy and tragedy, a simple tale easily understood by all because we are able to connect with the characters and circumstances. Chaplin unearths the bare bones of the narrative, stripped away of mere melodrama until only the raw emotion remains. With a soft touch, the bedraggled benefactor finally confronts his girl, and the film ends with his apologetic smile and her tear stained revelation.

Final Grade: (A+)

4 comments:

Shubhajit said...

"From the gutter to the glitter of city lights, a lonely vagabond discovers that love is blind." Well said. It ranks, along with Gold Rush & Modern Times, among Chaplin's best works.

Alex DeLarge said...

CITY LIGHTS looks wonderful on the UK import blu-ray! The more times I watch this film the more I'm inspired. Thanks:)

Lolita said...

This is an excellent film, that deserves a re-watch every now and then!

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