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Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin

Related: modernism - industrial revolution - 1936 - film

Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin


Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin [Amazon.com]

Modern Times is a 1936 film by Charlie Chaplin that has his famous Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie stars Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Stanley Sandford and Chester Conklin. It was written and directed by Chaplin.

"Modern Times" (1936) depicts the dismal situation of workers and the poor in industrial society. The Eating Machine Scene depicts the human sufferings to the industrialisation.

The movie follows the Tramp and a young woman - whom he rescues from the authorities who want to put her in an orphanage - as they try to overcome their impoverished street life. The Tramp attempts multiple jobs but quickly, and comically, loses them.

The factory where the Tramp works has a futuristic look and may have been influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis. People who saw the earlier À nous la liberté usually (at least according to IMDb comments) think that Chaplin got his inspiration from there, but Chaplin denied this.

Modern Times was one of the last silent films made, although it does include sound effects, music, singers, and voices coming from radios and loudspeakers. Towards the end of the film the Little Tramp's voice is heard for the first time as he ad-libs pseudo-French and Italian gibberish to the tune of Léo Daniderff's popular song, Je cherche après Titine.

Most of the film was shot at "silent speed", 18 frames per second, which when projected at "sound speed", 24 frames per second, makes the slapstick action appear even more frenetic. Chaplin created this effect deliberately.

In one memorable scene, Chaplin's character looks for a bolt to tighten while he is being pulled through the gears of an enormous machine. Another has the Tramp picking up a warning flag that has fallen off the back of a truck, and waving it to attract the driver's attention. He fails to notice that a parade of labor protesters have come up behind him. When the police break up the protest they arrest the flag-waving Tramp assuming him to be the protest leader.

The music score was composed by Chaplin himself. The romance theme was later given words and became better known as the song "Smile" ("Smile though your heart is breaking...") and covered by such artists as Judy Garland, Liberace and Nat King Cole.

The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Times [Jan 2006]

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