City Lights (1931), written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, is a film that imprinted the cinema industry. As the talkies were becoming very trendy at the time, the silent films were starting to be outdated. Charlie Chaplin still decides to go his own way and produce a silent film to project “the great beauty of silence”. City Lights recounts the story of Charlot (Charlie Chaplin) who goes back and forth between a young blind girl’s house and a rich millionaire who he kept from killing himself. Charlie Chaplin made films as metaphors, revealing what he believed to be out of order with society and showed it to his audience; mostly about social allegory. The reception of his 1931 film, City Lights, had substantial talks on what would be illustrated to the viewers. Director Charlie Chaplin portrays the marvelous beauty of silence, even though the silent films start to be outdated due to the highly demand of talking pictures.
No other film before had received that much publicity and expectation. As stated earlier, Chaplin stayed true to silent films and felt the need to keep this type of film ongoing; it was unexpected. Here is what the expectations were about as Paul Rotha noted:
During the thirty odd years for which the cinema has existed as a medium of expression, no other film has received such advance publicity as that accorded City Lights. No film has ever been more eagerly awaited by the general public, the small-witted intelligentsia and the film trade itself. Fanned to a pitch of semi-hysterical anticipation by the press, the cinema going public was prepared to find Chaplin’s new comedy a masterpiece of humor. (Rotha 85)
There were many rumors about this production; many thought it would be a talking picture; which would have been a first for Charlie Chaplin. Though, many professionals were concerned about the film being silent, if it would have an effect on the talkies, and if Charlie Chaplin would be able to break through this new trend. Chaplin once again proved his talented maneuvers to the audience. “City Lights isn’t silent” as Frederick James Smith noted, “Chaplin calls sound to his assistance all through the action with the aid of musical instruments.” In the same way, “There are times when the notes serve almost for words and so far as sound effects go”, Mordaunt Hall states in a beautiful review in the New York Times. Even though it is a silent film, Charlie Chaplin still manages to include sound and melodic features to his film.
Charlie Chaplin is a notable actor, writer and director who made his way through the film industry in the early through late silent era. Right before engaging City Light, Chaplin’s life was a chaos, going through a horrible divorce, silent films were...