Watching Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin showed me a new point of view into silent film. My only other experience being Metropolis, which was more dramatic than comedic, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed Modern Times. As mentioned before, the silent film was made ten years after sound has been introduced to the film industry. There is deep irony in the fact that the title is Modern Times, while it is a semi-silent film that is ten years behind the times.
Irony is repeated throughout the film. It was ironic when he was sent to jail and met the man who sewed, yet this was hilarious because he was so intimidated by the size of the man. It was also ironic that Chaplin and the “Gamin” called their shack paradise even though the floor gave under pressure, there were cans for cups, and the wood over the door always fell and hit Charlie’s head. The irony added humor to the comedy and therefore made it a comedy.
There were other repetition of Charlie’s clothes. The most prominent being his mustache and shoes. No one else had similar features. His make up was also very prominent, not unlike the expressionist films where visual images are the only way of getting the story. These characteristics followed Chaplin along through the film and was able to express who his character was: a Tramp that had a knack of getting in trouble.
Lastly, the repetition of the President of the steel mill appeared. It reminded me of the book 1984, in which the society was dictated by “Big Brother”, who watched over you at all times. Except, there was a more funny turn to this as Modern Times was a comedy while 1984 was a book focused on dystopia. The repetition added to the movie by enforcing the idea that the President was always watching over you.
The film form of repetition continued showing the same objects, ideas, scenes, to enforce the idea. When a book would continue writing about it, the film shows the objects and ideas and pictures. This compensates once again for the lack of sound, but in the whole, made Modern Times a creative masterpiece.