Thursday, September 15, 2011
#199: City Lights
It has been often spoken about how Chaplin wasn't really happy with the advent of sound and how he went on to make silent movies even when sound was at his disposal. It is only fair that he didn't take the help of sound because as a viewer I can't imagine what watching The Kid might have been with sound. My opinion is, it is best we never got to know. Chaplin's genius lay in making us laugh with his gags, the slapstick and most importantly his myriad expressions. To add anything else to it would've been a folly and City Lights is one movie that makes you believe he was indeed right on that count.
The movie features Chaplin's favorite tramp avatar once again. This time he has a millionaire friend in Harry Myers who has an odd habit of being most affable when he is drunk. But when Myers is sober he forgets about his shabbily dressed tram friend. Chaplin meanwhile also has become friends with an attractive blind flower vendor Virginia Cheeril who believes that the tramp is a millionaire. City Lights is one of Chaplin's most famous works and touches you with the relationship that Virginia and Chaplin share in the movie. The blind Virginia has a certain image of Chaplin in mind and what her reaction to the unmasking of that image might be is a question that the movie's climax leads you to. The scenes with Myers though are most hilarious although the funny quotient in the movie is not as high as some of his other movies.
City Lights is a story with a lot of warmth. If you're the one for romantic classics, this is something you just can't miss out on. It is one of the most simple love stories on screen, nearly unspectacular and yet it doesn't fail to let you root for the tramp by the end of it. For the record, it was also voted as the best romantic comedy ever in an AFI poll where Annie Hall stood number 2. I have good reason to dispute it but I can't take away the fact that City Lights does sit comfortably on that list.