The film tells the story of a penniless tramp who encounters a blind flower girl and decides to do everything he can to help her regain her sight. In doing so, he encounters a wealthy man who refuses to acknowledge him, becomes a "street sweeper," and participates in a boxing match that he knows he will lose in order to earn a reward... After risking everything to get the money for the flower girl, he is arrested and imprisoned. After his release, the two meet again, and the blind flower girl has regained her sight. In the moment they shake hands, the flower girl recognizes him1...
Charlie Chaplin's comedy is filled with absurd depictions of life, but it is just right and not overly exaggerated, so it doesn't feel too lowbrow when you're laughing. This film also combines unforgettable warmth, like a light that never goes out in the darkness.
Comedy often needs tragedy as a foil. Similarly, light needs darkness as a foil.
Chaplin often uses characters from the "social underclass," such as tramps, to showcase the individual's tragedy in society.
The homeless tramp has nowhere to go, driven away and despised by the public, mocked and ridiculed by the newsboy on the street, and kicked out of the rich man's house by the butler. From his body to his soul, he is not respected in any way.
Until he meets the flower girl, who is blind, she treats him, talks to him, and gives him a flower. There is no disdain, no rejection, all of which make him feel a hint of warmth in the world.
The blind flower girl is the light of the homeless tramp, she restores his confidence in life; the homeless tramp is also the light of the flower girl, when no one cares about her, he gives her respect and care, and provides her with a living when she is in difficulty, even going to great lengths to help her regain her sight.
Two small, kind individuals illuminate each other with their own light.
In this heartless, hypocritical, decadent, and absurd city, the sincerity and kindness between the homeless tramp and the flower girl are the faint lights of this city.
This film was shot in 1928, when the momentum of sound films was strong, but Chaplin insisted on making it a silent film. After its release in 1931, it achieved great success and earned $5 million at the box office.
"City Lights" is also known as Chaplin's masterpiece and one of the greatest films in history. In 1992, the film was included in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress' National Film Preservation Board for its "significant cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance."
In the American Film Institute's AFI 100 Years...100 Movies list, "City Lights" has been selected multiple times and ranks high2, demonstrating the profound impact of this film in the film industry.