formal analysis

I decided to focus on the term “modern”, as it says “a story of industry, of individual enterprise – humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”. At the beginning, the film starts with a moving clock.


These are scenes that show modernized people in busy life. Modern life, illustrated in the film, looks somewhat ridiculous. These scenes work with audio effects.


01:33 – A herd of sheeps rushes, forcing each other.

01:39 – A herd of sheeps shifts into a crowd of people in the subway station.

01:44 – People rush to the factory without caring about cars running toward them.

01:52 – Workers rushing inside the factory.

02:47 – President of the factory monitors his workers.

03:07 – Presidents says “section 5, speed it up.”

03:25 – Charlie tries to catch up machine speed, but fails for few times.

04:55 – President says “section 5, more speed.”

05:27 – Charlie marks his time for cigaratte.

05:47 – President doesn’t let him to rest.

07:13 – Salesmen introduce a machine that feeds workers during work.

12:15 – Employers don’t give up and starts the feeding machine again.

14:44 – Charlie sucks into the machine and into the wheels. Then escape.

Another point that I thought interesting was, the text in the film. At the beginnning, a short description of the film shows up, and then another text introduces the president of the factory. During the factory scene, the texts shows the time of the day. Throughout the film, texts show up at crucial scenes, like “He’s crazy!!!” and “It’s not practical”. Also, the text narrates the storyline like “Cured of a nervous breakdown but without a job, he leaves the hospital to start life anew.”


It can be understood that this film doesn’t consist actors’ dialog due to the technology of the time, but some of the dialogs still exists in the film. It is interesting because some of the lines are written as the text and some of the lines are spoken by the actors.

{ 11/27/2012    4 Assignment 7   

3 responses to “formal analysis”

  1. Michelle says:

    I think it’s interesting that you first point out that the film begins by calling itself a story of “humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”. The very intense scenes of the busy factory life does give us the impression that these humans are “crusading”, but not necessarily towards what will truly give them happiness. You could focus on the disparity between what these humans are doing versus what is in their nature to bring them happiness. Not to say that hard work is preventing these workers from reaching happiness, but that their work environment has the characteristics that make it difficult to do so.

    Actually, this was made a few years into the era of sound in film, so dialogue was a possibility. Charlie Chaplin made the choice to keep it a silent film because he thought the character of the Tramp was only effective without dialogue. This is also a possible area to explore.

  2. Namita says:

    It seems that you’re interested in text and how it dictates the film or sets the pace of the film. I wonder if you could choose specific intertitle cards that talk about your interest in the word ‘modern’. The phrase “For action speaks larger than words” is used somewhere earlier on in the film. Do actions speak larger than words? You used the example of the juxtaposition of the herd of sheep and the crowd of people, where the image/action spoke volumes on how humans are like mindless sheep. On the other hand, the scene where the intertitle card says “it’s paradise” when clearly the house was in shambles demonstrated a strong juxtaposition of text and image.

  3. John says:

    Your interest in title cards make me think of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues video from 1967 …

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