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

Charlie Chaplin , Charlie Chaplin    Unrated   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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City Lights (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Gold Rush (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Great Dictator (Criterion Collection)  [Blu-ray]
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Special Features

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

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

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5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin brilliance.. Jan. 25 2014
Verified Purchase
Charlie Chapline had always been and remains a genius in his work and what he offered in his statements and comedy to the world
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5.0 out of 5 stars City Lights, the eternal masterpiece. Dec 6 2013
By Simon Bergeron TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CITY LIGHTS SHINES WITH A NEW BRILLIANCE Nov. 12 2013
By Casey62 - Published on Amazon.com
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When it comes to selecting a favorite among the sublime works of Charlie Chaplin, I can narrow it down to three features: THE GOLD RUSH (1925), CITY LIGHTS (1931), and MODERN TIMES (1936). Out of those, my favorite is whichever one I saw last, and for now the favor falls on CITY LIGHTS.

Released when talkies were already firmly grounded, Chaplin's last silent production was a staunch holdout in the face of the new technology and thankfully so, for CITY LIGHTS stands today as one of the most eloquent examples of pantomimed cinema ever made. The simple story about a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill in a beautiful performance) who falls in love with a tramp whom she mistakes for her benefactor, forms the backbone on which Chaplin constructs some of his funniest and most poignant moments. The film is both parts comedy and romance, and shows us most exquisitely that true love can indeed be blind.

Criterion's Blu-ray/DVD combo release of this ageless classic is glorious in image/audio quality. The film, scanned at 4K from two 35mm dupe negatives has never looked better, preserving a pleasing grain consistency and perfect tonal range. Details in textures and backgrounds are also flawlessly reproduced in HD. The audio is undistorted and completely hiss free; I especially like how dynamic the music sounds in the main title and boxing sequence.

The extra features (available in both formats) include a commentary by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance, a 2003 documentary on the film's making, a piece on Chaplin's visual design, archival footage from the production of CITY LIGHTS (a costume test, a rehearsal, a complete unused scene), an excerpt from Chaplin's 1915 short THE CHAMPION, trailers, a booklet with an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin.

CITY LIGHTS is silent film comedy at its absolute finest, as well as a deeply moving cinematic poem from a genius craftsman of the medium.

My highest recommendation.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Criterion switched to dual format. Nov. 15 2013
By Mark Twain - Published on Amazon.com
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A lot of people are complaining about the fact that Criterion now releases DVD and Blu-ray in a single bundle, eliminating the consumers' option of buying each separately. Criterion has released a well-written explanation on this (just Google "Why Dual-Format? Criterion"). Basically, since Criterion can only afford production by printing in large quantities, it is not nearly as cost-efficient to produce DVDs and Blu-rays simultaneously as producing them in "one big, cost-effective run".
The important point is that the price WOULD NOT INCREASE, as many have noticed: the great majority of Criterion Blu-rays and DVDs have been priced at 40 bucks each, and the dual format edition is also priced at $40. Amazon just doesn't cut down the price as much. If you want to save money, Barnes and Noble is hosting a 50%-off sale right now (online and in store), so you can get this for 20 bucks plus tax.
That said, this is a wonderful Blu-ray. I trust that people familiar with Criterion products know this already, but just in case you're curious, Blu-ray.com has a detailed review on this release; it is certainly a big improvement over all the previous releases (DVDs and Blu-rays) in terms of picture and sound quality. Also, this is one of the greatest films in movie history and has one of the greatest endings ever, so I don't know why you would not at least consider buying this.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Twilight of the Tramp at the Dawn of Sound Dec 7 2013
By H. Snyder - Published on Amazon.com
Charlie Chaplin was in pre-production on City Lights in 1927, when Warner Brothers shook the movie industry to its core with the introduction of recorded dialog in a feature-length film, The Jazz Singer. Chaplin was contemptuous of sound, saying that he would proceed with City Lights as a non-talking film, (although with recorded music and sound effects), and that by the time it was released "talkies" would have run their course and disappeared. Chaplin had absolute control over the production of his films, as actor, writer, music composer, director, and producer. He owed nothing to the bank, and took orders from no studio. He lavished time and money on the film, with the scene in which Chaplin's tramp first meets the blind flower girl requiring 342 takes over the course of more than a year before he was satisfied. Three years in production saw the completion of Chaplin's ultimate silent film, but meanwhile sound films had solidified their dominance, and movies had changed forever.

Of all the pantheon of silent comedy stars, only Chaplin could have succeeded in releasing a silent film four years into the sound era, but even he was apprehensive. Chaplin confided to Samuel Goldwyn that if City Lights proved to be a box office flop, he was ruined. Released in 1931, in its opening scene City Lights even made a mocking reference to talking films. The dignitaries unveiling a sculpture tableaux entitled "Peace and Prosperity" speak through a kazoo, with Chaplin performing the voices. In this same scene Chaplin uses the hand of a male figure in the tableaux to thumb his nose at society in general and the "talkies" in particular. This gesture, as well as Chaplin's demure contemplation of a nude statue in a store window, likely would not have gotten past the Hays Office censors only a few years later.

The tramp's infatuation with the flower girl, and his efforts to raise enough money to restore her sight, occupy the remainder of the film, every minute displaying Chaplin's cinematic skills at their finest. City Lights was a resounding hit, ending the silent era with an exclamation point. Mixing precisely choreographed slapstick comedy with heartfelt pity, it juxtaposed laughter and tears in a risky combination that few films would even attempt. The final scene in front of the flower shop is a classic, particularly the last two close-up shots, one of the flower girl who can now see her benefactor whom she had mistakenly assumed to be a wealthy man, then a fade-out of the delighted but embarrassed tramp. One of the most poignant closing scenes in the history of film, it had many patrons leaving the theater in tears, reportedly causing people waiting in line for the next performance to ask "what kind of comedy is this?"

City Lights is the latest in Criterion's series of Chaplin films, and they have done themselves proud. The Criterion release contains a Blu-ray and a DVD disc, and both feature the film and a complete set of extras. Special features include two documentaries on the making of the film, archival footage from the production, trailers, an audio commentary with the film, an extensive booklet with an essay by film critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Charlie Chaplin. The best films to introduce a first-time viewer to the artistry of Charlie Chaplin are probably The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights. Twenty and more years after their release, Chaplin cited first one, then the other, as his personal favorite of all his films. Watching them today, in beautifully restored versions, it is easy to see why he would be conflicted as to which was his favorite. Both are superb, and not to be missed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Immortal Film Classic Preserved For All Time On Blu-ray Nov. 18 2013
By Michael P. Ofarrell - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
So much has been written about "City Lights" that my own two cents worth won't tip the scales as far as convincing those who refuse to watch silent films or "old" movies in general that they should see what I believe to be an immortal film classic. So much time has gone by ; decade upon decade slips away seemingly causing many of the acknowledged movie classics to fade into oblivion were it not for the cognoscenti who write about The Golden Age of Hollywood, the Lost Art of The Silent Film, and the great directors and craftsmen who created indelible works of art, motion picture murals that have stood the test of time and are for all time. Recently three extraordinary silent productions have made their way to Blu-ray and DVD : D.W. Griffith's multi-historical epic "Intolerance", King Vidor's vivid World War 1 drama "The Big Parade" and Charles Chaplin's romantic comedy/drama, "City Lights".

What is remarkable about "City Lights" is its ability to render the viewer helpless and vulnerable in witnessing the meeting of The Tramp and The Flower Girl during the film's finale, possibly the most heart wrenching moment in film history. In creating this particular sequence, director Charles Chaplin served Charlie Chaplin the actor with his greatest moment on film. The iconic Tramp, the world famous, beloved character of early 20th Century film reached the pinnacle of craftsmanship and art with "City Lights", where comedy and drama effortlessly mingled with nary a misstep. The movie is by turns hilarious and deeply moving and the acting of Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill strikes viewers' hearts as much now as it must have done to movie audiences in 1931.

Criterion's Blu-ray/DVD combo release is the one to own. The movie has never looked or sounded better (Chaplin's music score is unforgettable and shows off another side of his genius). The supplements accompanying this release are fascinating particularly those scenes showing Chaplin directing his actors on the set, his many moods and his utmost dedication in bringing this unforgettable love story to life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin's most poignant film... Dec 23 2013
By Primotenore - Published on Amazon.com
I just finished watching City Lights (Criterion Collection) BLU-RAY/DVD DUAL FORMAT EDITION for the tenth time and even though I know the film by heart, I still laugh out loud at Charlie's antics; his impeccable timing; his every gesture and glance, well-thought out and perfect. Indeed, the film is perfect. Criterion presents City Lights in an unusual 1.19:1 ratio. There is a bit of cropping on the left side of the screen, but nothing significant. The B&W picture is sharp with nice contrast and appears to be a nice upgrade from City Lights: The Chaplin Collection (Two-Disc Special Edition). But seriously, this film is the gold standard and belongs in every movie collection. My 22 year old son just gave me 90 minutes and watched it with me. He said afterward that he wants to now watch The Great Dictator (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]. That made me smile. Buy this movie today and you will be re-watching again and again.
Highest Recommendation.
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