City Lights is Charles Chaplin’s most perfectly accomplished and balanced work. It would certainly be on the short list of films with which I would care to be stranded on a desert island.
By 1931 the silent cinema was effectively dead. It took considerable courage to lavish two years of rather expensive production on a silent film (and even more courage with Modern Times five years later), but Chaplin felt he had very little choice. He correctly perceived that the Tramp would lose his poetry and grace if he were coerced into the leveling mundanity of human speech. He foresaw that sound would force him to sacrifice the “pace and tempo” he had so laboriously perfected. Read more