#11 City Lights

“Tomorrow the birds will sing.”
The Tramp

What is it about a guy falling down that is so funny? Without any words, Charlie Chaplin is able to evoke emotion in a way that few physical comics in the modern day, even with the aid of pithy one-liners, are able to. What is truly great about City Lights is that it shows just how little people change.

The Film was released in the 30’s and, while in the grand scheme of things 80 years may not seem like a lot, it does illustrate how much the world has changed. 22 dollar rent, doctors making house calls, and the Tramp’s job cleaning horse manure off the streets, are all date markers for just how different the world was in the 30’s. There were no cell phones, or social networking, yet people still interacted in the same way. Fundamentally, despite the fact that we now have iPads, we as people haven’t changed. And that is what is so great about this film.

The emotions, problems, and themes that the Tramp faces in City Lights are universal, and their power and importance do not diminish over time. In fact, in the time that has passed since its release this film has become even more important, and I am confident that as more time passes its relevance will grow accordingly.

Obviously there are technical aspect of this film that could have benefited from some modern techniques. But Charles Chaplin was a genius. By directing, starring, and writing, both the plot and music for, this movie, Chaplin was able to create a piece of art that is both timeless and entertaining. He was also able to prove that no matter when it happened, a drunk guy falling down is ALWAYS funny.

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