Flim Club Review – City Lights
City Lights is a silent movie which was released in a time when talkies were taking over and silent films were soon to be no more. But being a silent movie, this story about a tramp who falls for a blind girl and tries to find enough money to support her and pay for an operation which would give her sight back is able to do without the excess, trim the fat, and focus on bare bones storytelling through a visual medium. And it does this masterfully. Despite the absence of vocals and minimalist dialogue through title cards, the audience is never confused as to the plot nor the motivation of the characters.
Charlie Chaplin is pure, true talent. His reputation is by no means unfounded or exaggerated. The way he is able to convey the exact emotion he wants to convey through simple facial expressions and gestures is remarkable. He is able to take simple slapstick routines and make them charming and magnetic. Some great examples here are the scene where he saves the make from jumping into the river and the infamous boxing scene.
The romance story is quite moving and genuinely charming. I appreciate silent films for their importance and the unique way in which they told their stories, but I don’t begrudge their disappearance since they really don’t have a place in movies anymore. Talking pictures were the natural evolutionary step. City Lights was made during the end of an era and it showcases one of the best examples of what silents films were.