After now watching two films in this class, I think the point being made by the film selection is obvious. It shows how two separate movies with similar themes and motifs can actually be completely different because of the form they are made through. The message present in both films is the struggle of poverty, and how to cope with it. However, each film tackles a different approach, that stem off of each different respective genre (science fiction versus comedy) to send this message. The opening of Modern Times instantly creates formal expectations for something funny, while Metropolis opens with lavish sets and costumes, indicating science fiction.
Modern Times I think best shows what Charlie Chaplin was all about. It really shows Chaplin as a master director and comedian, and in particular, shows his mastery of expectations, and referential meaning. For example, many times throughout the film, a character or setting or object would be introduced, and instantly the audience is set up to expect some kind of Chaplin slapstick humor from it. When Chaplin starts working as a mechanic’s assistant, the audience is introduced to the factory where he works. One can easily see the confusing and dangerous machinery he is working with, and can assume that these machines might harm some of the characters later, and create the slapstick humor. The same can be said about the barrels of wine and the roller-skates in the department store, and the beaten up shack that is compared to a “palace”.
Chaplin also uses a ton of referential and implied meaning. For example the “sugar” that he accidentally ingests is a reference to cocaine, and the audience only laughs if they are familiar with that reference. Chaplin uses implied meaning when his character and the orphan character walk on the road at the end of the movie. The ending shows the two main characters laughing and happy after just losing their jobs, and the director implies that in their quest for job stability, they have found something much more important: happiness.