Modern Times

Modern Times was produced in 1936. Chaplin himself directed, wrote, scored, and produced the film all by himself, and also had the starring lead role accompanied by his wife, Paulette Goddard. In Modern Times, Chaplin embodies the epitome of the hard worker. Modern Times opens with a clock approaching six o’clock, the morning hour that sets American blue-collar workers into motion for the daily grind. The clock is gigantic and fills up the entire screen, which helps really push that generalization. He tries his hardest at a variety of jobs, whether it being a factory assembly-line worker, a shipyard worker, a night watchman on roller skates, or a singing waiter. While it is classified as a silent film, Modern Times is not-so-silent. There are a lot of voices and souds from machines (the feeding machine), the television screens ( the Big Brothers screen) and Chaplin’s real singing voices at the end of the movie while he was a waiter. It is coupled with a series of sound effects and musical score that enhance the film.

Set during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the film connotes what was actually happening to millions of people in real life – unemployment, hunger, and poverty. Of course, Chaplin mimics these ‘real life’ situations with a large spoonful of humor. There are a number of memorable and unique scenes that Charlie shows off the dehumanization effect the machine has had on its time (the Industrial Age). The scene of Henry Ford’s assembly line so comically shows the real irony of machinery. The purpose of the machine was to shorten production time & decrease human error, however in the film it does quite the opposite. The machines begin to get stuck and break, which is actually prolonging the time and amount of production.

{ 11/27/2012    4 Assignment 7   

4 responses to “Modern Times”

  1. Sofia says:

    I thought your analysis of the opening scene of the clock was interesting, because I hadn’t given it much thought. Although since this is the very frist scene, it must have a lot of importance behind why they chose that scene.
    Your idea of how the machines are actually being counter-productive is very interesting too. I wonder if any technology in the film is shown as helpful to the characters. Many of the projects that you’ve done in this class have been based around the concept of new technologies and whether it’s helping or not.

  2. Sam says:

    I agree that your analysis of the opening scene is very interesting. There are also other moments in the movie where the motif of time is brought up: the punching in of the clock when Chaplin uses the restroom, the smashing of the mechanic’s watch, the machine that feeds workers to save time…etc.

    Your final point about technology was also interesting. The machines are always shown to be broken and/or doing some sort of harm.

    The other points you bring up are also interesting but much less developed. I think it would be best if you were to focus in on just one of these ideas.

  3. Ye Won says:

    I think you may focus on the first scene of the moving clock, because the title of the film is modern “times”. It is a very strong scene that used a huge clock because it mimics the modernized people who devote their lives to catch up with the time. However, it would be stronger analysis if you bring the other scenes of the film to come up with this clocks. For example, ridiculously rushing music while chasing scenes. Also, I think your idea on “silent film that is not really silent”. If you develop with this gap using audio effects, it would be interesting too.

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