A tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind girl. Her family is in financial trouble. The tramp's on-and-off friendship with a wealthy man allows him to be the girl's benefactor and suitor.Written by
John J. Magee <email@example.com>
Charles Chaplin's penchant for perfection carried over into all aspects of the production. He had a very clear vision as to how every scene should play. Robert Parrish, who had a small part as one of the newsboys who pelt The Tramp with peashooters, remembered in 1991: "Chaplin was a dervish. He would blow a pea from the peashooter, playing both my part and the part of Austen Jewell, the other newsboy. He then would run over and react as the Tramp being hit by it, then back to the newsboys and blow another pea. He would then play Virginia Cherrill's part of the Blind Girl. Then he was the Tramp. Then he would instruct what the background people should be doing. Everyone watched as he acted out all the parts for us. When he felt he had it all worked out, he reluctantly gave us back our parts...I believe he would have much rather played them all himself if he could." See more »
(at around 50 mins) When the man swallows part of the Tramp's soap and starts spraying bubbles, the tube used to spray the bubbles is clearly visible behind him. See more »
About seven minutes of footage of Georgia Hale playing the flower girl exists and is included in the 2003 DVD release. The footage was shot during a brief period when the actress originally cast to play the character had been fired and replaced with Hale, but Chaplin was forced to resume filming with the original actress due to the amount of film already shot. See more »
Film has become a medium that is strongly influenced by nostalgia. Old films have become journeys to the past; ways to visit times and people that no longer are. Since film is an art that is based on the innovation of previous works, it has an element of nostalgia in its foundation. We look on the old to find what elements should make up the new. In City Lights, and other silent works of film, a passion emerges that is uniquely honest and sincere. While watching the film, I was impressed that Chaplin really did love the story, the sets, the crew; the whole project. While this may not have been the complete reality, it felt that way, and thus made the film more enjoyable. In silent films the audience is forced to be completely reliable on the visual elements of the film; there are no elaborate sound effects or dialogue to provoke an emotional response.
Since film is at its very core a visual medium, I find silent films to be the basic form of the medium. I don't use the word basic here in a demeaning sense, but I compare the beauty of silent films to the beauty of early European art, before the concept of perspective was developed in the Renaissance. Many books and tomes featured people as tall as the castles they stood in; these works of art were not technologically advanced, but they were, and are, beautiful. The same example is found when comparing early darreographs of wild animals to contemporary photographs found in National Geographic. There is a warmth found in City Lights, and other Chaplin films (The Kid, Modern Times) that would be lost in the sea of cinematic technology that floods films today. Maybe it's just that with simplicity comes honesty, and honesty is perhaps the most powerful emotion that can cross through the screen and be felt by the viewer.
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