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City Lights (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (1931)

Charlie Chaplin , Charlie Chaplin  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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City Lights (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) + Modern Times (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Gold Rush (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Price for all three: $79.81

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Directors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004OOL73W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,578 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Chaplin Today: City Lights, a 2003 documentary on the film's production
  • New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
  • Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design, a new interview program
  • Archival footage from the production of City Lights, including film from the set
  • Excerpt from Chaplin's short film The Champion (1915)
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and more

  • Editorial Reviews

    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.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars CITY LIGHTS SHINES WITH A NEW BRILLIANCE November 12, 2013
    By Casey62
    Verified Purchase
    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.
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    14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Why Criterion switched to dual format. November 15, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    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.
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Twilight of the Tramp at the Dawn of Sound December 7, 2013
    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.
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    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    Verified Purchase
    The film opens as politicians celebrate a new monument to prosperity. Their speeches are empty words, gibberish. The monument is unveiled, only to reveal a bum, asleep in the lap of luxury. A struggle ensues. Irate politicians attempt to remove him from the monument, putting out of sight and out of mind the reminder that things aren't all that great for everyone in the big city, and the tramp attempts to make a dignified exit. In this and in so many scenes throughout the film, Chaplin is a master at creating ironic contrasts, ratcheting up the tension to the point it is almost unbearable -- where you don't know whether to laugh or cry -- and then he moves on, The tramp adjusts his coat, wipes off the dust, and waddles away. As often takes place in Chaplin's films, the tramp falls in love, but the one he loves loves him back based on mistaken identity. She is blind, and takes him to be a rich gentleman. The film is both hilarious and is a very thoughtful reflection on what it means to see, and on the various kinds of blindnesses that afflict most of us most of the time, so that we only see what we want to see.

    This is, to my mind, the greatest film by one of the greatest filmmakers. I've held off, though, in picking it up on DVD because, until now, it didn't look all that great. I'd seen it in the theater projected from a somewhat damaged print, I'd seen it on VHS and I'd seen it on DVD. I was hoping that someone would restore it properly and release it on Blu-Ray. I can't say how excited I was when I heard that Janus Films was doing restorations of several Chaplin films, and this was one of them, because I knew that meant we'd get a DVD and Blu-Ray release from Criterion.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin was a genius, and City Lights is a ...
    Chaplin was a genius, and City Lights is a showcase for the man's gift of drawing on the watcher's emotions.
    Published 2 days ago by Neil Burns
    5.0 out of 5 stars Burning Bright
    1931. City Lights. Chaplin's best work. Made during the heyday of talkies, City Lights is rebellious and courageous. It is the most heartfelt thing Chaplin ever produced. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Mad Zack
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in any format!
    O-K! Here goes, for better or worse. My rankings for the 3 releases I have/had of this stupendous film:
    Best Video:City Lights (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD); Runner... Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Jrum C.
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
    What can one say about what is, arguably, Chaplin's masterpiece - and the amazing Criterion edition with so many extras.
    Published 1 month ago by Corie
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great films.
    Don't miss this silent classic. A great film for the film enthusiast and for the rest of the family. Buy it!
    Published 3 months ago by Gooder
    5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin!
    Bought this film because it's one of the films on the AFI's Top 100 films of all-time. The list comes from the AFI's two (2) surveys in 1997 and 2007 to determine what films... Read more
    Published 4 months ago by Glenn R. Smith
    5.0 out of 5 stars A great classic!
    One of my top 10 all time great classic films beautifully restored to its original brilliance by Criterion bluray :-)
    Published 6 months ago by K. AUNG
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift
    My brother put this on his Amazon Wish List over a year ago, never really hoping that he'd actually receive it. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by Laurie Kaufmann
    5.0 out of 5 stars the best from the best
    the master in top form. no need for lengthy analysis or discussion. buy it, watch it, then repeat as needed. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by pops
    5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing film gets an amazing transfer!
    Not much to say about City Lights that hasn't been said before so I'll just repeat what everyone has known about this film for 80 some years; One of the best movies ever made and... Read more
    Published 7 months ago by M. Purgatori
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    Topic From this Discussion
    Why so expensive?
    Criterion never said that it would remain the same price as the DVD. They said that the cost of the Blu-Ray would not increase. They're safeguarding your investment in the film. If you don't have a blu-ray player yet (honestly, what in hell are you waiting for?), they're allowing you to have the... Read More
    Dec 13, 2013 by filmgenius89 |  See all 3 posts
    WORST cover art work EVER
    The cover is nicely designed, although I've seen stronger caricatures of Chaplin.
    It's not the cover, but the contents, that matter. Criterion editions are beautifully produced and worth the money.
    Sep 3, 2013 by Nancy Beiman |  See all 4 posts
    Barnes and Noble Critereon Sale 5
    Here's the deal. Amazon does not price match on media, but price isn't always important. At my ripe old age of 72, I have learned that dealing with a GREAT CUSTOMER-MINDED OUTFIT, i.e., Amazon, is worth the extra money one pays rather than buying from the 2nd worst company on the planet, Barnes... Read More
    Nov 12, 2013 by Bennie Quincy Shaft |  See all 2 posts
    Get the Image DVD for the Chaplin score, re-recorded in 1987 Be the first to reply
    The One Criterion Edition I've Been Waiting For Be the first to reply
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