|Index||3 reviews in total|
CITY LIGHTS is easily Charlie Chaplin's most subtle comedy. The blatant
humor is missing, and instead the comedy comes from the smallest, most
inconspicuous things. In addition to putting the film in its historical
context and tracing the history of the production, CHAPLIN TODAY: CITY
LIGHTS also guides the viewer through parts of the film and points out
the tiny little gems of humor Chaplin works into the film. Then when
you watch the film again, you see the inner genius of Chaplin at work,
and you begin to appreciate the film much more.
This short documentary is similar to an audio commentary, as it has a noted filmmaker voice-over his views on parts of the film, explaining what is going on. It is an invaluable accompaniment to this gem of a film. Be sure to watch it at least one time AFTER you have seen the full film.
Chaplin Today: City Lights (2003)
*** (out of 4)
Serge Bromberg directs this episode in the French series. Director Peter Lord (CHICKEN RUN) talks about the film CITY LIGHTS and shares his opinions on why the film works so well. Various bits of the film are explored including the meeting of the Tramp and the blind girl, the gentleman drunk and of course the now legendary ending. Lord talks about each of these scenes and why he feels that they work so well. Obviously, as Lord points out, any director would be jealous of the amount of time Chaplin had to make his films as well as work out each scene and perfect them to what he wanted. One of the most memorable scenes deals with him looking in the store window at the "woman" and walking back not knowing that there's danger waiting there. The comic timing of this scene is marvelous but we also get to see a bit of rehearsal footage with the actor trying to work everything out. We also get to hear about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that was going on including Chaplin firing his leading lady but then realizing it was simply too late to do so so he brought her back. We also hear about Chaplin's dislike of talkies and why CITY LIGHTS became a silent. Fans of the film will certainly enjoy this episode as it's well worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"(Charles) Chaplin was, for half a century, the master puppeteer of his own marionette." As one of the opening quotes of the CITY LIGHTS edition of the French TV series, CHAPLIN TODAY, this statement evokes the tone taken toward Chaplin's last silent film in this making-of. The narrator points out that, by the time CITY LIGHTS was produced, Chaplin already was famous enough to be caricatured in an early cartoon by Walt Disney. This fame had a price. Fearing that speaking in English would lessen his universal appeal in non-English speaking countries, Chaplin decided to hold out and make one more silent film, going against the grain of history. To emphasize his iconoclasm, Chaplin opened CITY LIGHTS by lampooning "talkies" with intentionally-distorted pontificating dubbed in his own voice during the statue-unveiling scene. However, this short points out that filming CITY LIGHTS was no walk in the park. From the weeks it took to do 300+ "takes" of the Tramp's first meeting with the blind flower girl, to the late-in-production firing of Virginia Cherrill as the blossom seller (which only forced Chaplin to reinstate her a week later at double the salary!), this CHAPLIN TODAY backgrounder makes a good follow-up to the feature itself.
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