Charlie Chaplin's 1931 film of CITY LIGHTS is a visual masterpiece in its newly restored and released print, especially when presented with a live orchestra like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The story deals with the "Little Tramp" helping a blind flower girl, her grandmother and a suicidal millionaire, among others. Chaplin's comedic stunts and moments of gentle passion combine with his outstanding, original musical score to completely capture one's attention despite the film's "silent" status.
In the nearly one hundred years of filmmaking, some early movies have endured and have attained the status of “masterpiece.” Such a film is Charlie Chaplin’s CITY LIGHTS, and the recently restored new-print release of the film only emphasizes the depth of Chaplin’s genius. The intensely touching story reflects a simpler time in our history. The “Little Tramp,” in his own gentle way, helps a blind flower girl who is unable to sell flowers because of an illness, and he saves a despondent millionaire from taking his life. The Tramp ends up in prison through a mix-up. When he gets out, he finds the flower girl, now with financial means. Her heart moved by his appearance, she “sees” him for the first time.
Between hilarious scenes of Chaplin’s comedic stunts and moments of gentle passion, a striking story weaves throughout the picture. The Tramp’s simple, undying devotion for the girl comes through to reunite them in the end. Laughter and tears ride a seesaw of emotions in just a little over an hour of the picture’s length. And, Chaplin’s score amplifies and compliments each scene. His original intent was to have the music be nearly ballet-like, choreographed to the action. By combining live symphony music and pristine film quality, the work of a master completely captures one’s attention.
(B, C, V) Compassion triumphs in this film where: the Bible is shown as a direct influence for a family's faith; alcoholism is characterized as a negative; and, situational and slap-stick comedy, but no violence or sexual immorality.