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City Lights (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Directors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Nov. 12 2013
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004OOL73W
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,542 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

The most cherished film by Charlie Chaplin (Modern Times) is also his ultimate Little Tramp chronicle. The writer-director-star achieved new levels of grace, in both physical comedy and dramatic poignancy, with this silent tale of a lovable vagrant falling for a young blind woman who sells flowers on the street (a magical Virginia Cherrill) and mistakes him for a millionaire. Though this Depression-era smash was made after the advent of sound, Chaplin remained steadfast in his love for the expressive beauty of the pre-talkie form. The result was the epitome of his art and the crowning achievement of silent comedy. SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray • New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance • Chaplin Today: “City Lights,” a 2003 documentary on the film’s production, featuring Aardman Animations cofounder Peter Lord • Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design, a new interview program featuring visual effects expert Craig Barron • Archival footage from the production of City Lights, including film from the set, with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran, a costume test, a rehearsal, and a complete scene not used in the film • Excerpt from Chaplin’s short film The Champion (1915), along with footage of the director with boxing stars at Chaplin Studios in 1918 • Trailers • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin

City Lights is a film to pick for the time capsule, a film that best represents the many aspects of director-writer-star Charlie Chaplin at the peak of his powers: Chaplin the actor, the sentimentalist, the knockabout clown, the ballet dancer, the athlete, the lover, the tragedian, the fool. It's all contained in Chaplin's simple story of a tramp who falls in love with a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill). Chaplin elevates the Victorian contrivances of the plot to something glorious with his inventive use of pantomime and his sure grasp of how the Tramp relates to the audience. In 1931, it was a gamble for Chaplin to stick with silence after talking pictures had killed off the art form that had made him famous, but audiences flocked to City Lights anyway. (Chaplin would not make his first full talking picture until 1940's The Great Dictator.) After all the superb comic sequences, the film culminates with one of the most moving scenes in the history of cinema, a luminous and heartbreaking fade-out that lifts the picture onto another plane. (Woody Allen paid homage to the scene at the end of Manhattan.) This is why the term "Chaplinesque" became a part of the language. --Robert Horton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Simon Bergeron TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Dec 6 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Chaplin worked far over what productions would have considered normal to achieve the film he had in mind. He was Stanley Kubrick BEFORE Stanley Kubrick and did not stop or move until he had precisely what he wanted. Chaplin wouldn't give an inch, leaving us with City Lights, one of the most beautiful films of all times. He may not have known what he was looking for (Chaplin hardly worked from finished scripts. Rather, he tried ideas upon ideas until it built into something cohesive), but after more than a year, City Lights was finished and loved by an audience already used at talkies. Nearly 85 years later, the film still strikes a sensitive chord with comedy and drama combined. Considered risqué at the time, it was endlessly duplicated, but NEVER surpassed. Criterion brings us a superb edition, although I doubt it will be the definitive edition.

Picture wise, there is much more clarity, detail and depth into this presentation. The 4K remastered elements deliver their timeless charms one after another as Chaplin wanders through the film. The audio is quite interesting but sounds a bit crunchy at times, showing a bit of its age. A re-orchestrated score could have boosted the sound, but then again, maybe the budget just wasn't there or no one thought it necessary to update the track. For whatever reason, it doesn't really matter since everything brings us back into 1931 full swing with beauty aplenty, superb images and the immortal Tramp character.

Criterion gives us a nice serving of special features such as a "Chaplin Today" which was previously on Warner's 2003 DVD of City Lights, a 16-minute documentary retracing the production, trailers, a few silent sketches from Chaplin, and some real gold: on set footage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rick M. Pilotte on Sept. 29 2008
Format: DVD
Right up to the 70's this was considered the best movie of all time. I'd heard of this movie but was never able to see it for ages.
One day it came on the French channel and as I love silent movies I recorded it in French (subtitles). ( it's one way to learn the language.) Even though it was in French, it still shone, and to this day it is still the only version I've seen. This is by far the best Chaplin, though some of his earlier works, had they been feature length films, might have come close. ( For example The "Pilgrim" is pretty good. Later works such as "Modern Times" and The Great Dictator are also top notch movies,. bur He never again matches this one, and his films after The Great Dictator(1940), are probably not even worth watching)
The scene when the sound of the siren and the tramp realizes he's in for trouble is a classic image. This is just a wonderful pic that just has to be seen. If you have a friend who's doesn't know how good a silent movie can be this is the one they have to see.
The scene at the end , no matter how many times I watch this masterpeice, never stops a tear from coming. This is a 7 star movie...none of this five star business. One chap, Jackie Coogan (The Kid: 1921) remembers this movies affect on the viewers when it was new. He said after the movie ended there was "not a dry eye in the house".
To give the uninitiated an understanding of just how fabulous this movie really is, understand it was released in 1931, a full two years after the silent era had supposedly ended, yet it was a number one box office smash for, if I'm not mistaken, 6 months!...and I think it played in theatres for two years!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Fisk on June 6 2004
Format: DVD
"City Light's" is by far Chaplin's greatest film. Some may say "The Gold Rush", but myself, and I know a lot of others, will say this one. I think its maybe THE greatest movie ever made, just maybe. Chaplin was by far the greatest film maker of all time, and this is his most finest work. You have to see the movie for the end scene alone.
Chaplin plays the part of his world famous Tramp character. He meets this flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) who happens to be blind. She mistakes him for a rich "gentleman". The little Tramp immediately falls in love with her, and he throughout the film, tries to help her see again, by getting money to pay for this operation. The little Tramp saves this rich guy from committing suicide, and the man becomes his friend.....when hes drunk. When the man is sober, he does not want to see the tramp. When hes not, he is kind, giving him money, letting him borrow the car, etc. The Tramp goes through a number of jobs, to get the money for the blind girl, including amongst a few, a prizefighting boxer. He gets into a lot of different bits of trouble, but he gets th money to pay for the operation. He ends up late rin prison. When he is free, he sees the girl, and she can now see, and his true identity is revealed. The end part, is the greatest scene in movie history. There is nothing possibly better than it, except it would be teamed with the "Cheek to Cheek" scene in the Fred and Ginger movie "Top Hat", of course. Those are the two most wonderful scenes ever filmed.
The film was released in 1931. the "talkies" had been around a few years now, but Chaplin managed to stay silent. He composed the muisic for this film, and added a few sound effects.
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