City Lights ★★★★

2019 Weekly Comedy Challenge: 1/52 - (Week 1: A comedy starring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Harold Lloyd.)
OV List Challenge 2019 - Roger Ebert's "Great Movies"

This was my first experience watching a feature length silent film and my first true experience with the work of Charlie Chaplin. I was blown away by the performance, the comedy, and the pantomime style of storytelling.

There's an energy to City Lights that permeates the screen for its entire runtime. The physicality in the comedy is awe-inspiring as Chaplin effortlessly flows through what must have been heavily choreographed and meticulously timed sequences. It's nothing short of delightful.

There's a boxing sequence that was the movie's best and most impressive moment for me. The way Chaplin and the other two actors in the scene move in rhythm with one another, incorporate certain props, and reuse different gags in different contexts throughout the sequence is brilliant and very funny.

The heart of the story, the Tramp meeting and falling for a blind woman selling flowers, brings everything together for me and provides a very sweet anchor for the comedy. Silly physical comedy is in every scene but the thing that powers the movie is the meet-cute and subsequent drama of Chaplin and the blind girl. I was surprisingly touched by the end of the movie.

I'm glad I finally opened myself up to this side of film history and I'm very excited to explore more of Chaplin's work as well as more films from the silent era. (Although, I know City Lights was made after the rise of sound in films.)