Modern Times (1936)
“A story of industry, of individual enterprise- humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”; a story that has grown in popularity since the beginning of mechanization and industry, a hymn for those who are oppressed, a common backbone for the working man who is plagued by authority, yet, Modern Times (1936 ) is different from other stories, it is a story that relies on repetition, variation, pattern, and meaning to promote form and style.
Modern Times (1936) relies on repetition and variance in order to achieve its purpose. Repetition is elicited comically and seriously. The repetitive nature of this film flows like poetry, the cycles of arrest the “Little Tramp” endures acts as a beat to a melody that is intertwined by hardship and unwavering individualism. No matter how many struggles with the police, no matter how bad of a predicament he is in he always reverts back to his old ways: his top hat, cane, baggy pants, tight cut-away coat, oversized boots and a genuine smile on his face. Despite the repetitive nature of his appearance, he always plays a helping role and lives externally, always helping others despite instances of rebellion onto force.
As humans we form patterns around images and relate it to literary meaning. Thus, patterns elicit meaning. A perfect example of how Modern Times allows the audience to relate past images such as the opening sequence with the flock of sheep and 1 black sheep to the constant repetitive rebellion of the “Little Tramp” and his individualistic nature; showing that the black sheep is him.
Meaning in this film is found in several ways especially symptomatically. The symptomatic meaning behind the story is the mechanization of humans and the plague of industry on the working class, which is evident within the time period (The Great Depression). Modern Times film enacts ideological meaning through its form.
Modern Times can be seen as a social commentary that has lasted throughout the generations. Although its initial response was minimal and even to be thought as old fashioned this film has been preserved and remembered for its unique comical edge and for its form as a whole.