Modern Times

There is one image that lingers in my mind from the film “Modern Times,” and that is the flock of white sheep at the beginning of the title scene. This flock of sheep starts to frantically scurry and amongst all the pearly white sheep is one black one. This symbolism I believe, is directly correlated to both of the main characters repetitive failure. It is also linked to Charlie Chaplin’s repetitive disobedience to the system. The scene where the eating machine is first used is also linked to this “black sheep” imagery. The opening scene shows Charlie working on the assembly line, and he works on the assembly line for so long that when his shift ends, he cannot stop doing the same mundane and repetitive motion that he had spent all day doing and that is significant of the value of life in this time of American History. To their boss, the workers on the line are nothing more than a time sheet, they are defined by the simple job that they do on the line and their humanity is devalued by the introduction of the “eating machine” that is suppose to enable the workers to eat while they work. This machine disregards the fact that eating is a pleasurable humane act, not just a means of getting back to work. The workers on the assembly line have been so trained and devalued that they have become machines themselves. Charlie, on the other hand, refuses to fall into this role. He disobeys the rules and tries many other things. I think that is where the Black sheep imagery comes into play.


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