Friday, 8 January 2016

January Blindspot: City Lights

City Lights, 1931
Directed by Charles Chaplin

A tramp falls in love with a blind woman who sells flowers. He also makes friends with a crazy millionaire, who only recognizes the tramp when he's drunk. With the aid of his millionaire friend, he tries to help the blind woman, who is in financial trouble.

City Lights has  plot, I suppose. But it's very loose and seems to be more a few different short stories put together to make up a movie. I'm definitely not complaining about this, because I actually found this movie to be really fantastic. City Lights is finally an old movie I understand when people say it's one of their favourite films or that they could rewatch it or that it's incredibly funny. Because City Lights is definitely all of these things.

Unarguably, Charlie Chaplin had one of the biggest influences on cinema and film making. I feel it can't be argued either that he is a leader in comedy as well. City Lights is a truly funny movie, and you can see how much it's physical humor has influenced movies. The tropes done in this movie are still things we use and laugh at today. So much of this comedy is timeless. We will always find people falling over or ripping their pants funny. It's something we can all relate to, or are all secretly scared of it happening to us. But the thing I particularly liked about City Lights, more than some newer comedies, is the almost gracefulness to it. There are several scenes that seem so immaculately choreographed that it almost seems like a dance. There's a rhythm to it and, even though you know what's going to happen next, it's still funny! Often I don't find things funny, cause I know exactly where they're going. City Lights uses this to it's advantage and I found it got great results.

To me, this movie almost felt like Chaplin had a bunch of short film ideas, small stories. Such as the boxing scene, or the drunk scenes with the millionaire, or even the almost-suicide scene at the beginning. In a way, these scenes feel like they were included, not because it was entirely necessary to the actual "story" of the film, but because Chaplin liked these individual mini-stories and wanted to include them. Again, I'm not faulting Chaplin for this, because I think they're incredibly fun to see altogether. While it feels slightly disjointed, it's still a lot of fun to watch. Especially the drunk scenes and that boxing scene. Both so incredibly hilarious.

This is not my first foray into Chaplin's filmography. I have also had the privilege of watching The Gold Rush a few years ago in a film class I took in college. Also very funny and with well choreographed comedy, I will definitely be taking a deeper look in Chaplin's films. I honestly very much loved this film and am surprised I like it as much as I do. I haven't often connected with older films so much that I'd call them an "all-time favourite", but with a few more viewings and some time to sit, City Lights just may make that list!


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