A Compared Chritic Analysis (Silent Film Classic Critic) Of City Lights, And The Jazz Singer (Early Talkies)

1. Silent film classic critic


CITY LIGHTS, A film written and directed by Charles Chaplin is a comedy romance in pantomime, produced in 1931.Chaplin interprets a tramp that gets involved with a blind girl. The film is essentially a drama about this relationship, and all the involvement of both in order to have their conflicts solved. Chaplin's conflict seems to be his loneness and kindness. It sounds this is the only way he can perform. He's always a hero. The film starts with the traffic in a big city, at night. Then, black and light bright is in evidence. Different nuances of white and black can be seen, depending on the correlation of the facts, and the time they take place. The music really follows the scenes emphasizing the events. Then, it's morning. The screen gets very clear, with intense white and gray. The scene is about an inauguration of a monument in a square. Chaplin is there. Speeches for the audience, the first lady speaks, and pulls the rope. Chaplin is under the cover sleeping on the hands of the monument. His trousers got attached on the monument. Then, the hymn and his attempts to run away from that hilarious situation. His irreverence even with a national song is contrastive. Music gives coordinates for the action, in accordance with the expected behavior one should have to listen to it.  Everybody is really nervous with him. It's afternoon. Streetwalkers. Two newsboys are having fun about him. They get his stick and a finger of his gloves. Then, he looks a nude statue, and admires the shapes. He's intriguing, and falls in a pit. A man comes up for explanations. He runs away. Then the face of a florist. He's crossing the street, faces the police, and passes through a car, from door to door, and observes the florist. She offers a flower to him. It falls down. She tries to pick it up. He realizes she's blind. She puts the flower on his suit. He pays. Another man gets the car and she things he has gone away. He turns the corner and comes back on his foot. She gets some water in the fountain to clean the vase and throws it on his face. Evening. Her grandmother is boiling some water. She turns the gramophone on, and waters the plants close to the window. She greets the neighbors and gets a cage with a bird. It sounds there are scenes that Chaplin explores expected behavior for certain moments, but sometimes new facts that change the routine. Night. Here, we can observe the intensity of black. A man is attempting suicide. He puts a rope around his neck. Charlie is coming with the flower. He attaches the rope around a rock and tries to throw it in the river. Charlie impedes him, and tries to convince him not to do that. He cries. Charlie said: Be brave! Face life! The use of legends also contributes to understand what is going on. How should the image be sufficient to substitute the legend? Even knowing about Chaplin’s talent, we would say that legends are complements of action. Then Charlie’s friend puts a rope around his neck and the man throws a rock. Chaplin goes to the river. Interesting inversion of the action. He tries to save Charlie. Then, we observe the edition of the music. There is orchestration  all along the film. The man promises they will be friends for the rest of their lives. He invites Charlie to go home. The police are coming.  He comes back and gets the flower. He’s left on the sit. Like an object of desire. A very white flower, and different in the context, because of the color. A beautiful house. The man is a millionaire. The butler gets all his belongings, and informs his wife has left the mansion. It sounds good for him. He offers some drink for him. He's very drunk. The millionaire suggests that they go out to a nightclub together: "We'll burn up the town!"  They change their clothes and go to a ball. The millionaire puts the drink in Charles’ pants. He is also drunk. He falls down on the floor. They smoke cigars. The waiter orders spaghetti. He stops to smoke and throws his cigar on a seat. A woman sits, and her dress burns. Her partner got angry. Serpentines everywhere. He starts to eat the serpentine. It never ends. His friend helps. Two dancers perform a show. They are quarreling. Chaplin thinks it's truth. He tries to interrupt. Everybody dances. Charlie gets the wife of someone and dances. The man doesn't like. He gets the waiter with a trash and dances. The waiter falls down. The sense of humor of the audience is really a conquest. It's morning. Again, the white in opposition to black. They get the car and go home. The eccentric millionaire's butler gets him completely drunk and doesn't permit Chaplin to come in. The florist is passing by. The millionaire gets up and he misses Charlie. The butler asks him to come in. He gives Charlie some money. He runs to the girl and buys everything she has in a basket. He gives her US$10,00. He asks the butler to put the flowers in the vase and offers her a ride. He gets his friend's car and takes her home. Here’s a comment about the scene, that mentions her expectations in relation with her new partner: He gives her one bill: "Here's ten dollars." When she replies: "I haven't any change, sir," he refuses the change and then thrusts a second bill into her hands. The Tramp drives her home in the rich man's car - he literally becomes the person she imagines with the money and automobile in his possession. (01) Cats are on the window. He's gentle, opens the door for her, they say goodbye. He holds and kisses her hand. She goes into the house and seems to be in love. He gets up on a tonal of water and looks her through the window. Someone calls his attention and he falls down. He rings the bell with his stick. The butler doesn't permit Charlie to come in. He drives the car and fights with a beggar for a cigar on the floor. He meets his friend who doesn't recognize him anymore. The two women are having a snack. She retells the story. She thinks he's wealthy. That afternoon he meets his drank friend again.  They go to a swell party. He eats a whistle. Someone tries to sing and he disturbs. He goes out of the house and he calls the attention of the dogs. He comes back into the house and the dogs come together. The morning after. He slept with his friend. The millionaire gets up, rings the bell and asks the butler to let him going away. The butler prepares the bags to Europe. Everybody is sleeping in the living room. He tries to get some fruit, and eats a banana, walking along the sidewalks. He doesn't find the florist, goes to her house and spies through the window. She's sick. She's got a fever. He turns around and has a sit on the stairs. He knows he has to help her. He is oriented to find a job. Then, the reasons for the film are clearly demonstrated. There’s a goal for the subsequent scenes. An argument to take the audience’s attention. He becomes a garbage collector.

Then the document registers that she owes US$22,00, which she is supposed to pay till tomorrow morning. The florist gets up. She’s fallen in love. She feels the tears on grandma's face. She leaves the paper in a book, and goes to the streets to sell the flowers.  Lunch time. He has a discussion with his friend mate and the boss calls his attention. He buys many things and goes to the florist's house. He bought a cauliflower, and a goose. He shows her the news add mentioning that a doctor from Vienna can cure blindness. So, writing is part of the images. She asks him to hold the wool, but she gets the wrong line. She is pulling the wool from his vest. He gets a book, and sees that they are in trouble by checking the paper. He reads to her. Grandma tries to sell the flowers but is not being well succeeded. He promises he would be able to pay for that. He comes back late to his job and he is fired. Then, he meets a friend who recommends him to try a prize, by fighting. Many brave men in the waiting room. He has all kinds of situations when talking with the fighters. He tries to negotiate and share the prize. Everybody comes knocked out. His not scared anyway. They fight even being brave, he loses the competition. . He goes out and is still hopeful to get the money. He meets his rich friend and goes home with him. Thieves are in the house. The butler turns the lights on. They arrive. His friend gave him one thousand dollars. The thieves try to assault. The police arrive. Someone had hit the millionaire on his head. He lost his memory. He is interrogated. The police think he's assaulting the rich man. The butler reinforces it. He has to be drunk to recognize the Little Tramp as his friend. When sober, he is icy and cold and wants nothing to do with the Tramp. When drunk, he is friendly and supportive. (02) He escapes. He goes to the florist’s house and gives her all the money. He wants her to try the surgery. He kisses her goodbye. He's put in jail. She gets cured and opens a flower shop. He's dressed like a beggar. The two newsboys are having fun with him. It’s funny how his social status is up and down. They throw something on him. He looks around. He looks to the floor and sees a flower. The florist smiles because the boys are having fun of him. He recognizes her. He's astonished because she doesn't know him anymore. He smiles. She gives a new flower to him and offers a coin. He accepts the flower and the coin. She looks through his eyes and finally knows what they mean one each other. He is perplexed she can see now, and smiles. That's the end. The music reaches the top. It’s also Chaplin’s composition. It makes me remembering those popular words: “ Love is blind 1” 


2. A Film by early talkies


THE JAZZ SINGER - A film directed by Alan Crosland is about a jazz singer who wants to be famous despite of the strong religious convictions of the personage. We have some big explanations, and the first one starts like this: In every living soul, a spirit cries for expression - perhaps this plaintive, wailing song of jazzes, after all, the misunderstood utterance of a prayer. The contrasts of white and black do not permit us to read the legends. It sounds very careless. Does the producer want us to read that? We have to guess what is written. A suburb of NY, which claims for the rhythm of Jazz that, is considered older than the civilization. It shows NY in the earliest. Then, a traditional family. It explores the Jewish Diaspora in America. We notice only Mr. Habinowitz hands, because of the lights. And another legend... Cantor Rabinowitz chanter of hymns in the synagogue, stubbornly held to the ancient traditions of his race. Jackie, his son is supposed to sing Kol Nidre, which is one of the hymns. He's late. Sara Rabinowitz, his mom is divided between the respect of her husband and the inspirations of Jackie. He is part of a family of singers that has been considered for five generations; it's not on his control to decide what he wants to be. He sings in a bar. So, the progress in film production can be noticed. We now have the voice of the personage. Moisha Yudleson a rigidly orthodox citizen, and power to influence in the affairs of the Ghetto, is in focus. He drinks beer and when he sees Jackie singing ragtime music in a pub, he runs to tell Jackie's father where he is.  His daddy wants him to be in his place. He'll start the Yom Kippur diet. His father won't let him eat dinner. Mr. Rabinowitz takes Jackie home and quarrels with him. Mom is at home preparing dinner. Mr. Rabinowitz punishes him. He kisses his Mom after all, and asks him to leave the house, Mom cries so much, looks at his picture on the wall. His dad goes to the synagogue and cries because of the situation of his son. He sings a hymn. Another possibility to listen the voice of the personage. Jackie comes back home, gets the picture of his Mom and leaves the house. Years later - and three thousand miles home, in a cafeteria  (Coffee - Dan's) and Jackie Robin was far away from fame, as Al Jonson wrote. Everybody dances. He's called to sing "Dirty hands, Dirty Face".He performs well. The voices are in evidence, and in contrast. The little boy, and now the gentleman’s voice. An actress whose name is Mrs. Dale sees him, and invites him to join her group. She recognizes he has a tear in his voice, another legend that helps to explain the fact. It sounds a metaphoric language, to illustrate his drama. For those whose faces are turned toward the past, the years roll by unheeded - their lives unchanged. Mr. Rabinowitz teaches some other boys of the ghetto. Mom gets a letter from Jackie. He's working in a theater in Chicago and tells her about Mary Dale. She shows the letter to her husband and he doesn't want to see that. Then, scenes go to Portland Seattle, Salt Lake, and Denver. A split week in Omaha, Chicago, and Mary's promise’s realized. A stage. Mary dances and he vibrates with her. 


3. Contrasting pre-talkies with early sound pictures


The moment the florist finds out his identity with a kind friend is considered one of the most important scenes in the History of the cinema. His physical action is carefully performed. The second film is The Jazz Singer. October 6th, 1927. Warner Bros. surprised the world when they presented the first spoken film of the movie history, being indicated for the Oscar of the best-adapted script, and best Engineering effects. The director’s got a special award from the Academy. Nobody can doubt about the merit of this film. The sequence where Al Jonson interprets Mammy marked the transition of mimic films, for the new phases. No doubt it’s a classic that contributed to the improvement of audiovisual techniques in cinematography. Besides the ideologies concerning the scripts, where we could see the limits of love, and a romantic speech, the first shows the importance of friendship, and the second, how our future is influenced by the family. Both, mean, highly realistic, life-like, and carefully planned, involving the audience.

In terms of images, we would say that the first presents more variations between day and night. Perhaps this is intentional, so that the perspectives of different effects of white and black, and nuances of gray, could be artistically shown, and the second goes farther. When the singer paints his face of black, it gives the sensation that the white culture is momentously erased, and there’s a balance considering ethnographic conflicts, including the Jewish, which is adverse to black and white predominantly present ethnic in that social and historical moment, brought to the context. The first one shows the shots in close, more than the second does, and presents extended scenes along the narrative. The excellence of montage is absolute. Although, the movement of the camera in both cases seems to be not as dynamic, considering the set up, we can wonder the progress. They both show scenes in the interior and exterior, showing cuts rather than fade. It’s impressive how they had good management of light. Anyway, it sounds that the first can take a larger close of certain scenes, than the second, which suggests some progress with lens, and is more innovative and more active. The movement of people and objects are faster in the first film, and the second explores darkness more than the first. We don’t see distortions, or visual special effects. The performance of the actors and actresses seem to be more relevant. We don’t see distortions, or visual special effects. The performance of the actors and actresses seem to be more relevant. If we consider sound effects we would say that both of them, present a very careful choice of songs to follow the sequences of scenes, but the second seems to present them with not so many explanations about the narrative. The dialogue between the singer and his Mom is remarkable. We don’t have the sensation that actors were dubbing. The second also had a specific music and the first was close to a mix. City Lights presents more preoccupations with music and scenes, and The Jazz singer presents the necessary music in accordance with what is being shown. When he sings Mammy, that should be considered important to demonstrate his love to his mother. So he sings for her. By the way, we don’t see continuous silence or extra sounds, besides music and a short dialogue. We guess it came right before the attempts of higher standards of film industry.


Works Cited


Booker, Lee R. Elements of Film. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College

      Publishers. Orlando: FL. USA. 1977. (Chs. 2 and 3)

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, New York:

             Modern Language Association, 1988.

      City Lights, By Charles Chaplin. Dir. Charles Chaplin. Perf. Charlie Chaplin,

              Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Allan Garcia, Hank Mann.1931

               Blockbuster, 1995.

       The Jazz singer, By Alan Crosland. Perf. Al Jolson; May McAvoy; Warner Oland;

   Eugenie Besserer; Otto Lederer, Bobby Gordon; Richard Tucker.1927,

   Blockbuster, 1995.


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