Member Muses Get your own Movie Muser Blog for all your thoughts on film - it's absolutely FREE!
Search Movie Muser
Login To Movie Muser
Register
Forgot Password

City Lights (Blu-ray & DVD)

Chaplin's classic is worth another look

Disc Specs

Starring Charlie ChaplinVirginia CherrillFlorence Lee Disc Cover
Directed By Charlie Chaplin Certificate PG
Audio DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0
Visuals 4:3 Fullscreen
Running Time 83 mins
UK Release Date November 15, 2010
Genre Comedy
Our Rating
User Rating

Ah, the Chaplin dilemma. There is no better example of why people either love Chaplin or loathe him than this 1931 silent film. On the one hand it is technically brilliant, genuinely funny and fresh, and features sequences that still look dazzling all these years later. On the other, it is mawkish, syrupy and sentimental in the extreme. Overall though it is still an essential addition to any DVD/Blu-ray library for film fans.

Chaplin’s tramp is first seen at a city unveiling of a new statue – he has slept under the tarpaulin overnight and it takes him a good four minutes to climb down, the first of many funny set pieces. Physically Chaplin was at his peak here, and he never shies away from putting his body through torture for the sake of a visual gag.

He prevents a wealthy industrialist from committing suicide and they become friends, hitting the town for a big night out where Chaplin can really let rip with his routines – walking across a slippery dance floor becomes a fantastic display only Bambi can rival. When he swallows a whistle at a party, Chaplin shows he is beginning to understand the idea of sound comedy as well as visual.

Chaplin then meets a blind flower girl and falls in love with her, but she is poor and he has to think of a way to raise the money for her operation. Will his rich friend be able to help? And will she realise he is actually a tramp when she is able to see. It’s here that the story becomes rather too sugary for many tastes, but it would be a mistake to abandon it completely as there are many more jokes to come.

A sequence where Chaplin agrees to a boxing match to try and raise $50 is brilliantly staged and choreographed, even if the outcome is pretty obvious. Glaring too is the ending.

Chaplin was pretty much the king of Hollywood in this era, and he certainly puts it all on the screen – the film looks crisp, the design is spot-on and the costumes and hairstyles hark back to a more stylish era. As you may expect for such an old movie, while the film is included here in both DVD and Blu-ray forms, due to its age, it isn’t the most incredible HD experience in the world, although the Blu-ray version does mark a significant step up from the DVD. Chaplin’s fame was reflected in the visit to the set of one Winston Churchill, footage of which is included on the extras.

Overall Verdict: City Lights is a strange experience in some ways, yet it is certainly worth a reappraisal, especially as his films never seem to get a TV outing these days.

Special Features:
Documentary
Introduction by David Robinson
Out-takes
Winston Churchill’s set visit
Photo gallery

Reviewer: Mike Martin

Bookmark and Share

Muser Reviews

Not got a Movie Muser Account?

Click here to register (You'll get your own Movie Muser blog and loads more too!)

Login to leave a review
 
 
Forgot Password?