Week 3

“Modern Times” was a great silent film that I enjoyed watching more than I had expected to. Charlie Chaplin was a genius and it is no wonder as to why he is so famous in this industry. He formed a character through his facial expressions and gestures that was extremely likeable despite his tendency to create chaos wherever he went. He made it easy for the audience to root for him from the very start.

The movie seemed to follow several different patterns. The first pattern I noticed was the switching back and forth between the stories of Charlie’s character and the young girl. There is a contrast present as Charlie keeps getting accused of committing crimes that he didn’t really commit and the girl is a thief but escapes the police every time. This pattern continues until the two characters finally meet – thus satisfying the audience’s expectations. The pattern following after that would be a continuation of Charlie trying to find a job, failing, going to jail and then trying again. Each time his character did this though it was refreshing and humorous. The young girl added stability to the story as the two characters were always there for each other through the good and the bad.

The Great Depression has a large referential meaning in this film as it puts the characters in the proper setting for stealing and fighting to find a steady job. “Modern Times” serves as a sort of comic relief to this turmoil-filled time period. Even at the very end of the movie when the young girl feels like she wants to give up and stop trying for a better life, Charlie is there to reassure her that things will get better. This is the explicit meaning of the film. This movie served to tell people that it is easy to laugh when life gets really hard and no matter what happens it is best to “buck up” and “never say die”.

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One thought on “Week 3

  1. You touched upon a couple other of patterns in your article, as well. An important reoccurring motif in the film was Charlie’s complete and utter inability to fit in to these “Modern Times”. In every scene, he sticks out like a sore thumb, which more often than not, he has. In the factory scene, is the only inept worker, likewise, he is unnaturally tiny compared to the other factory workers. He fails to work with the machine. This is repeated again in the prison scene, when all the inmates move in synchronicity, and Chaplin, again, fails to keep up, always just a bit behind. And again as a waiter, he fails to differentiate doors, and sings in Italian, rather than his prescribed piece.

    The repetition of this “cog out of the machine” idea reflects onto Chaplin as a person, not just his character. The world is moving on without him, towards talking films, and he does not fit in to this new order imposed upon him, for better or worse. Despite this, he believes, as you aptly put, ” no matter what happens it is best to ‘buck up’ and ‘never say die’.”

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