As much as I loved The Kid, The Gold Rush, Modern Times and The Great Dictator, City Lights is the film I consider Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece. And there are several reasons why this is so for me.
I love how City Lights is filmed, once again the cinematography is stunning as are the costumes and sets. The music is also a delight(though my favourite soundtrack in a Chaplin movie is the one for Modern Times) with plenty of themes that stuck in my head, while the sound effects are wonderfully incorporated and the subtitles easy to understand. The comedy is brilliantly done, the scene in the boxing ring is not only one of my favourite scenes in a Chaplin movie(along with the final sequence and the dance of the bread rolls of The Gold Rush, the final scene of The Kid and the speech from The Great Dictator) but ever in a comedy, while there is a very touching love story between the Tramp and the little blind girl(played touchingly by Virginia Cherrill) he falls in love with. And I also found the close-up climax achingly poignant because of its beauty and ambiguity. Chaplin is superb, his pantomime skills and physical humour are extremely well judged and he is acts beautifully with Cherrill.
Overall, yet another Chaplin masterpiece, yet for me this is the best of them all. 10/10 Bethany Cox
Of all Chaplin's films (with the possible exception of Modern Times), City Lights offers the fullest characterization of the Tramp. He's a loner who comes and goes almost like a dream figure or a drunken angel. Without family, friends, or a place to live, he stands outside of our reality, sometimes trying to fit in and sometimes not caring whether or not he does. Yet, like a child, he is a complete innocent with a pure heart and the best motives.
If only one of Charles Chaplin's films could be preserved, “City Lights” (1931) would come the closest to representing all the different notes of his genius. It contains the slapstick, the pathos, the pantomime, the effortless physical coordination, the melodrama, the bawdiness, the grace, and, of course, the Little Tramp--the character said, at one time, to be the most famous image on earth.
The first great peak in City Lights, the boxing scene, may be the most brilliant single comedy sequence of his career, not least because of the participation of Hank Mann, who plays the Tramp’s Bluto-like opponent in the ring, and Eddie Baker, who plays the referee.
It’s not Chaplin’s best picture, because the comedian has sacrificed speed to pathos, and plenty of it. This is principally the reason for the picture running some 1,500 or more feet beyond any previous film released by him. But the British comic is still the consummate pantomimist, unquestionably one of the greatest the stage or screen has ever known. Certain sequences in “City Lights” are hilarious.
Watching this gem reminds you that Chaplin's true greatness lie not in his oustanding humor, but in his humanity. Here, he delivers a heartfelt story that at no point feels manipulative or contrived, even viewing it from a modern lens of emotional overload. "City Lights" is his Chaplin at his most human. He transcended the medium with silence (even when sound was available) and showed the world what cinema is capable of with moving pictures.
As I was watching Charlie Chaplin's 'City Lights', I was watching the ups and downs of life's simplicities unfold before my eyes. The film has a sweet, funny, and charming personality that is all wrapped up with a level of class and sophistication- handled masterfully by Chaplin's passion to contributing a large chunk of the film himself. 'City Lights' is unlike any other films that have come after it because it truly is rooted in delivering a story that is fueled on basic human wants and emotions. The only thing I wish was better was its pacing, and no, I don't mean that because it is a silent film that needs to use cards for dialogue, it's just that some of its scenes drag. However, all is more than forgiven because this film contains quite possibly the best concluding payoff ever put onto film. I truly mean that, the ending to this film perfectly captures raw expressions that are enough to move all who have watched this adorably funny, yet poignant, adventure. Bravo!
Started with Modern Times and found the comic genius of Charlie Chaplin. I've seen his movies before but they were mostly a blur. Now that I have revisited them I found a newfound appreciation for this era (somewhat). From The Kid to The Gold Rush, all his movies have laughs and heart, something I never thought I'd find in comedies. City Lights takes the cake for me sharing a slice of it with Modern Times.
The Tramp in some scenes might come off as a booze-drinking, cigar-chomping klutz but this is only because of his selflessness that leads him into these circumstances putting him in one comedic situation to another. What I love about this movie is the relationship he develops with a blind flower girl which blossoms (pun intended) into something pure and innocent. This contrasts his relationship with the millionaire who takes him galavanting, often leading into trouble. Don't let the lack of color and spoken dialogue fool you, this movie packs a lot of heartfelt moments, further cementing Charlie Chaplin's place in cinema history. Must watch.