7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the greatest films ever,
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin: City Lights [DVD] (DVD)
City Lights is a brilliant example of Chaplin's art and the sentimentality is all part of it. I think he brings it off amazingly and really shows that sentimentality can be a very good thing - far better than the modern 'I'm no one's fool' cynicism. There is a knowingness that the media has brought about that has made this kind of feeling very unfashionable, but it is our loss, because the grace of the flower-seller and her scenes with Chaplin are sublime. Equally the rich man's travails show how the link between money and happiness is by no means clearcut, even though his money allows the flower-girl's sight to be restored in the end. So the ironies are true to life ... However this is secondary to what makes the film so magical, which is the comic brilliance and timing of Chaplin himself, and his invention in all the set pieces, whether the ball he attends with the rich man, where his spaghetti gets caught up with the streamers, he sets someone on fire, dances like a whirling dervish, smokes a cigar from the wrong end - all things which might have been misses but which, in his hands, hit the mark spectacularly. The boxing sequence is the most inspired comic sequence ever to have been filmed, I think, its balletic absurdity underscored by an ineffable sadness at the harshness of life - and what the pure of heart may go through for unseen motives. The music is all from Chaplin's pen, which is amazing too. It seems to me that silent film at its best speaks to us directly and hasn't dated nearly as much as most of the films from the 40s and 50s. In a sense Chaplin was right to resist language because it got in the way - at least for thirty years or so. But these silent masterpieces are truly timeless.