In 2012 the BFI (British Film Institute) polled 846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors to update their list of what, in the experts opinion, are the greatest Movies of all time (to date).
In 2014 I decided to watch them.
Number 50c (tied): City Lights
This is the third film Tied at number 50, as we get higher up the list it should become less confusing.
Charlie Chaplins steadfast adherence to the silent movie format may seem bizarre at a time when the talkie was…well…. all the talkie of Hollywood (sorry) but as a pinnacle of a stellar career City Lights was well worth making. The is a saying that I may have just made up. It goes “If you can do something well don't fuck about”, this is definitely an adage that Mr C took and ran with.
City Lights is a true joy, its a well planned melee of situational and physical comedy with a poise and grace mixed with a level of pathos that only a few have ever been able to carry off successfully. Charlie Chaplin is one of those geniuses.
City Lights follows the story of The Little Tramp as he meets and falls for a blind flower seller, parallel with a brilliantly portrayed friendship with a Jekyll and Hyde drunkard millionaire. An archetype that I know well! All this is perfectly played to the soundtrack with subtle and some not so subtle effects cues.
IMDB currently have the film at a well deserved 8.6. My score is 9.
Rotten Tomatoes have the film at a slightly high 98% fresh. I would be a little more conservative with 93%
Coming at the conclusion of the silent era it shouldn’t come as any surprise that City Lights is a masterpiece in the genre and the first on the list that deserves that top 50 position.
We are back in France for Number 48 (these tied votes are killing me). The year is 1998 and the movie(s) Jean-Luc Godard’s “Histoire(s) du cinéma” a 4 volume, 8 chapter, 4 and a half hour epic that is reportedly an auditory and visual assault on the senses. Great.