Jul 1, 2010

Chaplin's City Lights to light up a rainy day!

(Okay, it's not raining right now, but it was a moment ago. For a moment. Eh. I refuse to change the title. So let's hope for some rain! ... Not looking very good out there, rain-wise. Oh well. Let's all imagine it's the ugliest rainy October Monday afternoon ever.)

City Lights (1931)

Directed by Charles Chaplin. Starring Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherill, Harry Myers. (+ Produced by Charles Chaplin. Written by Charles Chaplin. Original Music by Charles Chaplin... You get the point.)

Long story short: The Tramp wakes up for a new day, attracting trouble and causing general confusion from the very beginning. By chance he meets the blind girl, who mistakes him for a millionaire. He buys one of the flowers the girl is selling and holds on to it like a great treasure. When the evening comes the Tramp meets a drunken millionaire, about to commit suicide. Charlie stops him, and they become friends, until the morning after the millionare sobers up. Later he meets the girl again, still pretending to be a millionare and when he learns she's in big financial trouble, he's determined to help her.

What can I say? City Lights is a classic, and for a reason. I try to avoid the excess of words of praise, but the film is simply wonderful. It's really a shame how the younger generation, including me until recently, is so very ignorant about this wonderful black-and-white world, where words are needless, because you have faces, expressions and body movements. Chaplin was under a lot of pressure to make this a talkie - I'm so glad he held his ground! (By the way, this is the fantastic Robert Downey Jr. in the fantastic film Chaplin, explaining in a fantastic way, why they shouldn't make the Tramp talk. Oh dear god that clip is fantastic.)

I love the nostalgic opening credits. And again, I love the shaky film quality, though it's significantly better now than in the early short films. And well, it's the 30s, after all. And Chaplin is a grown man in his fourties, an experienced film maker. It shows, really, the camera movement and editing is so much better! And of course this is a full-length feature, done with considerably more money and effort.

Needless to say, the film was very very funny. An example, the boxing scene, here. The plot is simple, and yet very clever, charming and touching. The ending was brilliance. Guess now I know where the origins of those open endings I like so much lie... Anyway. This was the first full-length Chaplin film I saw. Not the last one, though. (A trivial fact: City Lights was apparently the favourite movie of Orson Welles.)

You'd think that for a 21st century brat like me, silent films would be boring and difficult to follow, but no fear. I wasn't bored once. Me! A girl who yawns at most films made before the 90s. I'm almost hoping they'd go back to making silent films. Though it wouldn't be so much fun without Chaplin.

The man is simply a joy to watch.

"Be careful how you're driving."
"Am I driving?"


Harri said...

Great post, more of these! I've never_seen_any Chaplin-movie but I'm really going to. Reading these posts makes me

And that biography sounds worth reading. And yes - it's in our local library too! If I only had some time to read it...

Harri said...

............makes me want to check those out*

Yeah, I do need some sleep and vacation.

Eeva said...

Yeees, there will be more of these! I'm just so glad I for once got excited about something that's not embarrasing or silly. :D But something really worth getting excited about! So yeees, I will watch more Chaplin films and write about them, and I hope I get to read about Chaplin in your blog, too. And that biography... YES. Read it. Make time. :D

... I think I need some sleep, too.