Week 3 Blog Post

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.

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2 thoughts on “Week 3 Blog Post

  1. Interesting commentary on the similarities and differences between Metropolis and Modern Times… I also think that Modern Times and Sherlock Jr. are good candidates for comparison as well. Though the latter doesn’t fall into the “economic downturn” theme so much as the first two do, I feel that Sherlock Jr. and Modern Times are very similar in the way that they overturn our expectations. Several times throughout both films, the audience is set up to expect an outcome, such as The Tramp and his lady finally getting a house in Modern Times, or the #13 pool ball to explode in Sherlock Jr., but almost every time, the outcome is not quite what we expect. Metropolis, on the other hand, did not seem to focus on trying to confuse our expectations. I found it easier to anticipate what would happen in that film as opposed to Modern Times or Sherlock Jr.

  2. Once again, Modern Times really does seem to play with expectations. There is barely any you can expect from the comedy, except that you know something will go wrong or different that you had originally thought it was going to be.

    I had read an earlier post about Charlie Chaplin being the black sheep and I wanted to bring that topic into this since it seems that we are talking about Chaplin’s humor. The whole basis of the comedy is the failures and successes of the Tramp. He is the black sheep that is forced to move with the crowd of white sheep, as used in the beginning shot. This creates the light hearted humor that is in the film, but also there is a deep meaning behind each scene and object. That is what makes this film so amazing, that there is such depth that watching it once or twice just is not enough!

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