The Criterion Collection has put out a new edition of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, and on the disc they’ve included the rare footage above of Chaplin directing that most famous of his pictures. Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. We see him giving instructions to young Virginia Cherrill, who appeared in the film as a blind flower girl for whom Chaplin’s Tramp falls head over heels.
You may say yes, but Brody, whose powers of cinematic observation at times make me want to scrap everything and dedicate my life to film criticism, has a more interesting response.


The director considered the actress an “amateur” and remembered her often “doing something which wasn’t right.
He sought what provoked, in him, the perfect emotion, the perfect aesthetic response—but he wouldn’t know it until he saw it. He started to shoot in the confidence that the thing—whatever it was—would happen.” And now you can watch 65 of the fruits of Chaplin’s quest for this imperfectionistic perfection for free on our very own collection of Chaplin films on the web.
The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody also uses it in his post on City Lights and Chaplin’s direction of Cherrill, of whom he, for one sequence, demanded as many as 342 takes.





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