It was a comedy. It was romantic. It had heartbreak. And it was innovative.
In 1931, silent motion pictures were all but dead, but film star / director Charlie Chaplin believed he could still make a film that did not contain spoken dialogue. And he did it. He created City Lights, a romance between a blind flower girl and his heart-of-gold Tramp character. And I don’t care if you think films like The Notebook or Sleepless in Seattle are your go-to romantic jam. The final scene in City Lights will raise your soul and break your heart at the same time.
In fact, here’s an assembled trailer for City Lights. See if this inspires you to watch.
The production of City Lights was monumental in and of itself. Three years to complete. Chaplin actually replaced Virginia Cherrill, his lead actress in the film, midway through shooting, only to bring her back when he wasn’t satisfied with the replacement actress. He filmed hundreds and hundreds of hours of film on specific scenes, testing different setups to get a joke just right or an emotion on point.
The result is a film that brings you in and never lets you go.
Even today, in times when I’m in a very dark place emotionally, this film is like the perfect salve.
In fact, if you want to, you can watch the entire film right here.
And stay for the final scene. Make sure you have plenty of tissues.