Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Do You Show Love? (City Lights, 1931)

#85-- City Lights (1931)

How do you communicate love to one who cannot see?

Blind people aren’t stupid.  Far from it. However, to be missing one of the more foundational abilities—hearing, sight, speech—makes it difficult to communicate.  Humans have created substitutes for the normal modes of communication for the “impaired”—braille, sign language—but those are specialized skills that most people do not have.

Love is a sensitive matter to communicate.  To display caring can be difficult without some good non-verbal communication.  Romantic feelings are even more sensitive, for it is a dance of desire and attraction that one plays to avoid rejection or offense.   When the Little Tramp, the master of non-verbal communication—falls in love with a lovely blind girl, how can he communicate that?  How can she know what he feels?  All the complexities and difficulties inherent in love is just that more difficult and complex.

The Little Tramp decides that he will give her the miracle of sight, by paying for an operation.  This poses another difficulty—the Little Tramp, he who has eaten his shoe in the past—finds it difficult to meet his own needs.  How can he afford an operation?  Love always finds a way.  Love finds a way to communicate.  Finds a way to overcome each and every hurdle.  Yes, this is a romantic view of life.  But for an hour and a half we want to live in that world, where love conquers all.

Fun Fact: Although City Lights was made after sound had overtaken all silent cinema, Charles Chaplin determined to make this film as a silent.  Despite the public’s general determination that silent films were passé, City Lights succeeded both critically and financially.

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