CFS sees ‘City Lights’

Danielle DiCiaccio

Considered by many to be Charlie Chaplin’s greatest film, “City Lights” is the second feature in the Cultural Film Series’ fall line-up, “Isn’t it Romantic?”

In the film, Chaplin portrays his famous Little Tramp character, the homeless, mustachioed man with baggy pants, cane and bowler hat that Chaplin developed into a pop culture icon in the 1920s and 1930s.

A combination of slapstick, comedy and pathos, “City Lights” is subtitled “A Comedy Romance in Pantomime.” The story follows Chaplin’s Tramp as he falls in love with a pretty young flower seller who is financially burdened – and also blind. Through various misunderstandings, the girl believes Chaplin to be a wealthy and distinguished man.

At the same time Chaplin befriends an actual millionaire – though the friendship only exists when the millionaire is drunk enough to acknowledge Chaplin, and disappears whenever the man is sober and subsequently forgets who the Tramp is.

This sometimes-friend acts as benefactor for Chaplin, and he in turn becomes a benefactor for the blind girl, whose blindness he has vowed to cure.

Through the generosity of the drunken millionaire, various comedic attempts to find cash, and criminal activity that lands him in jail, the homeless Tramp is able to pay for a surgery that will allow the girl to regain her eyesight.

Beyond blindness and drunkenness, the flower girl and the millionaire are both challenged with really “seeing” the Tramp for the person he is. Their initial inability to see him touches both the humorous and the saddening aspects of false visions and blind love.

“City Lights”, released in 1931 three years after the advent of “talking pictures,” was produced, directed, edited and written by Chaplin, and is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Worked on for almost three years, the movie owes even its musical score to the perfectionism of Chaplin, who composed it himself.

See the film that Hollywood legend Orson Welles claimed to be “was the greatest film ever made.” You’re bound to enjoy Chaplin’s devotion to the visual and his genius for physical comedy.

“City Lights” will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.

The Monday evening screening will feature guest speaker Rick Worland, who will both introduce the film and lead a discussion following the screening. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for all others.

For more information, call x9-4750 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays or visit the CFS website.