|Charlie Chaplin in City Lights|
City Lights (1931)
d. Charlie Chaplin
Criterion Collection #680
Criterion Collection edition released November 12th, 2013
Watching silent films can be a bit of a chore. Charlie Chaplin is probably the first silent film maker who really connects with a contemporary audience. If you look at other Criterion Collection titles from the silent era they are super arty and dull. Important, sure. But dull. Chaplin on the other hand makes films that connect across time and space.
You compare Chaplin to, say, D.W. Griffith, and equally "important' silent era film maker, and Griffith's films are essentially unwatched, and Chaplin is still being watched, essentially, on the level of a current release. There's also the fact that Chaplin wrote/directed/acted and produced his own films. I think you can make the case that a significant portion of what we today call "movie magic" was essentially invented by Charlie Chaplin in his classic films.
Take City Lights, soon to be given the Criterion Collection treatment (took them long enough? rights issues?) Chaplin is seen as being a fairly innocent filmmaker, but City Light features attempted suicide, drunken misery, prison and of course, centers around the relationship between Chaplin's Little Tramp character and a blind flower girl. Kinddda dark.
Chaplin is a genius, bottom line. His movies are so watchable- and enduring- just the very definition of the word "classic."