Show Review: ‘City Lights’ Film with Orchestra

by Chad Liffmann on April 14, 2014

Lady and The Tramp

Lady and The Tramp

On Saturday night, the San Francisco Symphony continued their fantastic film series with City Lights (1931), Charlie Chaplin’s timeless romantic comedy. Conducted by Richard Kaufman, the orchestra performed the entire film score in perfect sync with the film playing overhead.  The music, written by Chaplin, is a wonderful mix of joyous and romantic motifs that fit well with the variety of urban locales on screen.  The score can at times recall Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” written just eight years before City Lights was first released.  The audience at Davies Symphony Hall ate the whole evening up, cheering as often for the orchestra as they did for The Tramp himself.

City Lights follows the story of Chaplin’s iconic character, The Tramp, as he fights to provide financial assistance to a blind flower girl that he’s fallen in love with.  The scenes are structured as a series of slapstick set pieces, yet they form a cohesive telling of this charming tale.  Being able to see this acclaimed masterpiece on a big screen is an experience everyone should get to have.  A live orchestral accompaniment is icing on the cake.

The San Francisco Symphony keeps the good times rollin’ with some exciting film nights this summer, as well as the 2014-2015 film series lineup that was recently announced, including The Godfather Live (US premiere) and The Wizard of Oz.  Visit for information, subscription info, and tickets.

Summer Dates:
May 31 – June 1: Fantasia
July 17 – July 12:  Pixar in Concert
July 20:  Grease Sing-Along

2014-2015 Lineup:
September 27:  The Wizard of Oz
January 10: The Godfather Live
March 28:  “Gotta Dance!” Great Moments of Dance in Film
April 25:  Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy


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