Thursday, October 28, 2010

City Lights

As the second full length Charlie Chaplin movie I've seen, I found City Lights to be significantly more effective than The Gold Rush. Humor-wise they're about on the same playing field, but there's more to film than a few laughs, and overall City Lights had a much more interesting and emotionally effective story. The Gold Rush had scenes that were as cringe-worthy as anything in modern sitcoms that weren't even going for laughs, while City Lights fortunately sticks to good old-fashioned sentiment. Being a silent comedy, there's going to be a lot of scenes that repeat gags and probably go on a lot longer than they have to, while only barely serving to continue the plot. Obviously the standards for this sort of thing are different if a movie is 80 years old, and it's funny enough to be sure, making me laugh out loud more often than a lot of today's comedy.

The story itself really does elevate it above other silent comedies though. The Tramp meets a poor blind woman who sells flowers, and falls fairly instantly in love with her. Meanwhile a rich man who only recognizes and befriends him when he's drunk (I've never heard of this particular phenomenon before) helps the girl mistake him for being rich himself. He tries to help her as best as he can before his infamous tendency to be ridiculously unfortunate and put upon society forces him to leave for a while before a remarkably touching reunion at the end. It's not perfect, but as far as telling a nice story with no dialogue or narration, it does a very nice job. Certainly a classic of the form.

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