(1931) dir. Charles Chaplin
viewed: 07/06/07 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA
I am not sure exactly when it started, but I have been increasingly been enjoying silent films and have started to dedicate more of my rental queue to them. Though, it must be said, this hasn’t been reflected yet so much in my viewing, but it is to come. I have tickets to a couple of exhibitions at the upcoming Silent Film Festival and I know that there will be more here shortly.
Charlie Chaplin, as iconic a figure as he is, I have to wonder how much he’s really seen these days. City Lights is considered by many his masterpiece work, completed and exhibited in the sound era, with a recorded musical track, has some touching pathos and real beauty to it. In many ways, the humor sequences aren’t among the best, but the story does have an amusing ride, particularly his relationship with the drunken millionaire who loves him to death when he’s loaded, but doesn’t remember any of it when he sobers up.
The final scene of the film, when he meets up with his formerly blind flower-selling love again after getting out of jail for “stealing” (he didn’t really steal the money) the money that he gave her for the operation to bring her sight back… It is touching, and in some ways, it manages to redeem the film beyond it’s basics, transcendentally charming and I’d say it could warm even some pretty well-hardened hearts.
All in all, I was a tad disappointed. I’ve only in recent years seen one other of Chaplin’s films, Modern Times (1936) which was a bit more imaginative. I recognize that I am on the outside of being well-aware of the silent era’s peaks and lows, but I am eager to start on more, and more will come.