Thursday, 14 March 2013

City Lights


CITY LIGHTS (BLACK AND WHITE, 1931)

Director
Charlie Chaplin

Cast
Virginia Cherrill, Charlie Chaplin, Florence Lee, Allan Garcia, Harry Myers and Hank Mann

Ages
4 and up

Plot
One day, a tramp (Chaplin) meets a young but blind flower girl (Cherrill), grand-daughter of a poor elderly woman (Lee) who lives with her. The flower girl actually mistakes the tramp to be a millionaire, and needs some money to tide over her grandmother’s financial troubles and her own eyesight problems. Fortunately, the tramp has an on-and-off friendship with a millionaire (Myers) and his butler (Garcia). Unfortunately, the millionaire’s a drunk and he can’t rely on him, so he becomes a prize-fighter who has to fight someone else (Mann) in the ring, but the truth is he is a bad fighter.

Still of Virginia Cherrill and Charlie Chaplin


Why it’s good
Because it was made four years into the sound era, and young children might infer that Chaplin is so uncool not to use the sound effects just recently created and how cool the silent era and Chaplin’s comedy brand was. It still is, even though not a direct inference.

When I borrowed this during one of the one-week holiday breaks, it was not me who picked it right off the shelf. It was my younger sister. She is the best supporter of our youngest sister’s interest in Charlie Chaplin.

My reply was, “I have watched that before.”

But unfortunately, she did not remember watching it, so I allowed her to borrow the movie again. At first, she thought it was a really funny film, but halfway through, I said that it was too sad for me to continue watching.

It probably is to you, too. The mellow ways of Chaplin and him being misunderstood was a really good comedy style, but it has a pinch of sadness and closer to drama than animation ever was. You could also say the music score by Chaplin himself enhances the film’s sadness.    

Trivia
Could you guess who followed Chaplin to the theatre for the film debut? The person was Albert Einstein. Who went with him for the London debut? George Bernard Shaw.

Parent’s guide
Nothing. But remember the millionaire is a drunk, but you don’t have to know about it to enjoy the film. There is one crude joke where Chaplin’s pants get wet with alcohol, but you can tell your children that is purely water.

If you like this…
Watch the other Charlie Chaplin films, e.g. "The Gold Rush" and "Modern Times".

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