Week three blog assignment

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times demonstrates great use of repetition, unity and a great deal of expectations being met or not met at all.

Throughout the film Charlie perpetually fails at any job he obtains. The film starts by demonstrating Charlie as a employee in an assembly line in a factory twisting screws. This motion of twisting becomes extremely repetitive when Charlie starts twisting anything remotely close to the size of the tools he uses (i.e buttons, a fire hydrant, etc). However, the main source of repetition in the film is the failure of Charlie to obtain a steady job due to his very quirky and clumsy behavior.

Later on in the film Charlie meets a young lady who he decides to help with the intention in returning to jail (ironically where he feels comfortable and safe). Here the audience expects the sense  that Charlie and this women will end up together finally in a nice home with steady jobs. As the film unfolds there is various occurences where they become stable both as members of society and once again fail to fit in.

Towards the end of the film Charlie appears to be an amazing entertainer along with his partner who stars as the lead dancer. Once Charlie is offered a steady position as a singer, his partner has been search and found by the police which cause Charlie to once again have to run away in order to save his partner. There this sense of disunity comes into play where the audience thinks what would’ve happened if both would’ve worked, save money, bought a home and had the life they somewhat live in the store that Charlie worked as a night watchmen.


However, unity comes back as they both stay together and continue to fight through modern times. Therefore this recurring failure motif can be symtomatic in the sense that at the end what is more important? For them to stay together and continue through the struggles together or become stable as an individual at the cost of losing one another?


Week 3 Blog Assignment

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times utilizes recurring motifs, audience expectations, and meaning, which are varied due to the film’s genre. 

A recurring theme found throughout the film is Chaplin’s own cycle of failure and success as seen in his inevitable loss of a job, time in jail, and achieving a new form of employment. Here we can see the troubles and hardships faced from a common person at the time of the movie, of the high rates of unemployment and strikes that lead the people to poverty and hunger. This is a symptomatic meaning as the film reflects upon the own troubles of the time it was produced in.

As the film is a comedy, several scenes where we would cringe in horror and tension is replaced with a more anticipated and humorous feel. This is most exemplified in the scenes where Chaplin is placed a situation that would be commonly be scene as dangerous, especially the department store balcony where he almost fell off. If this was any other genre, we would have expectations of fear and anxiety. But due to the label as a comedy, the audience more or less expects a comedic fall or humor. Also, due to the huge delay in Chaplin’s character to react to the missing fencing, the audience is also sent in a feeling of suspense.

Recurring items such as food, and more specifically bread, and gears deliver implicit meaning. The bread represents the peoples unfulfilled needs due to the rampant unemployment. The gears could be seen a representation of the order needed, but if one gear is jammed then the entire mechanism of entropy will stop. This can also be seen as  a symptomatic meaning as it reflects on the times and era it occur within.

Week Three Post

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.

Week 3 Blog Assignment

In Modern Times, one of the frequently recurring motifs that I found to be most symbolic to the film is food. In every scene, food is present and seems to play an important role in the storyline. From the beginning of the film we see the machine that feeds workers, and the girl stealing the bread and bananas, and the roast duck that never gets eaten. All of these themes with food play a role in showing the hardships of the Great Depression. During the Great Depression, a lot of people couldn’t afford to buy food, so some resorted to stealing like the girl stealing the bread, bananas, and cake from the department store. These scenes remind the audience of the difficult times of the Great Depression while combining it with humorous scenarios despite the seriousness of the situation.

As a comedy, we expect the film to be all laughs and humor, with nothing very serious or bad happening. However, the death of the orphan girl’s father was a very dramatic turning point in the movie. This scene reverses the viewers expectations, because we never saw foreshadowing of anything as serious as death occurring in a comedy film. The death of the father was an example of how desperate the situation was in the Great Depression. Everyone was in a state of unrest, with workers going on strike and people protesting. Even though this film was a comedy, it showed a dark side of society at that time.

The police played a significant role in the film as a recurring motif. There always seemed to be a police man in the scene, making sure there was no trouble and always seem to be catching the Tramp doing something that wasn’t entirely his fault. However, the Tramp didn’t mind being in jail and even tries to purposefully do something so he will be arrested because he liked living in jail so much. This is another sign of the conditions people faced in the Great Depression. Many people were homeless and the Tramp would even go to jail because he felt it was a place that he could call home. In the end, he tries to find a home but is unsuccessful.

Modern Times Week 3 Blog Assignment

Essentially, the most powerful image portrayed in Chaplin’s Modern Times is that of the black sheep. Upon seeing the lone black sheep in a flock of white sheep, the audience somewhat expects the black sheep to be Chaplin himself due to his recurring “tramp” persona in his other works. In Modern Times, however, the black sheep takes greater significance as the plot takes place during the Great Depression. This harsh time in American history gives referential meaning of struggle and adversity to the plot. Along with the audience’s expectation that Chaplin’s films consist of lighthearted humor, Modern Times displays its own unique commentary on the period.

In Modern Times, Chaplin as the black sheep represents the struggle of surviving in the Great Depression, a time in which many working people had to adapt to working in machine crazed factories and not truly knowing where their next paycheck would come from. In terms of Chaplin’s life, this motif also serves as a metaphor to his career as how he had to adapt to the onset of films with sound and the end of the silent film era. Released almost a decade after the introduction of sound to film, Chaplin’s last tribute to silent film begs the simple notion of acclimate or die through the film’s recurring plot patterns. Ultimately, he’s the last great silent film artist.

As the story progresses, we see Chaplin trying to acclimate a considerable amount of times to the new role he has during the Great Depression. Each time he attempts to adapt, however, he fails. In one particular scene, Chaplin sits comfortably in his newly furnished prison cell after getting on the warden’s good side. Continuing with the pattern, it is only a matter of time before Chaplin loses his favorable situation and must adapt yet again when he is pardoned and released into the working world. The viewer can deeply interpret this particular scene as the true metaphor and parallel to Chaplin’s life. At the height of the Silent Film era, he stands at a comfortable situation (his lavish cell). However, he must quickly adapt to the dawn of film with sound (the pardon) and accept his new world.

The black sheep motif represents Chaplin’s iconic individuality as an artist. Although he never truly adapts, expecting Chaplin to always have a happy ending, the audience is satisfied as Chaplin finds his own black sheep and his own set of values in the form of his lovely female friend. He leaves the viewer with a strong message: If you can’t adapt, fight on!

Modern Times Analysis

Quite a lot of symptomatic meaning takes place in Charlie Chaplin’s film, “Modern Times.” Chaplin’s character is constantly failing to meet society’s expectations of a successful working man. Despite his determination to complete his tasks and his cunning ways to avoid getting in trouble, Chaplain never truly fits  in, as shown through the film’s form.


At the beginning of the film, Chaplain works in the steel mill with the monotonous job of tightening bolts on an assembly line. As Chaplain gets further behind in his work, he affects the workers next in line- this is easily seen through the use of continuity editing, as a shot-reverse shot technique is used to switch from the angry stares of the other workers and Chaplain’s hastiness to catch up. The exaggerated facial expressions and movements in this scene contribute to the comedy of the film. I also gathered that, ironically, the tools that he uses are supposed to help him make money, but ultimately by using them he becomes unemployed.

Even when Chaplain is held down so that he cannot possibly mess up, he still fails to show the success of the dinner machine when he serves as a test dummy. Again, the scene is made comical through the failure of the machine, especially when the corn on the cob goes haywire. Perhaps if the machine had successfully fed him, he would have redeemed himself for his previous mishap at the assembly line; however the machine makes more of a fool of him as expected from the audience. The machine could be another symptomatic meaning for society not being able to fix him. Repetition of Chaplain’s failures emphasize his difficulty in being successful in the work force.


Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is one of the great pinnacles of the Classical Hollywood film, with its undeniably-seamless storytelling and use of motifs.  It makes great use of its distinctive form and tone, serving as a strong statement of social-economic commentary while presenting simultaneously a satiric perspective on as well as a criticism of industrial society during The Great Depression.

Through Chaplin’s character, the film almost glorifies – albeit subtly – the trials and tribulations of the poor during this historic period that is plagued with strikes and widespread poverty; he symbolizes, throughout the film, the persevering optimism of America’s underdogs. Also, the heavy, daunting industrialized machinery of the factory symbolizes the physical and psychological/mental weight of the Great Depression that takes a toll on many, while the constant oppression of the law and the police (as Chaplin’s character is repeatedly sent back to jail) represents the side of the Great Depression that irrevocably suppresses the freedom and happiness of the masses rather than liberating and supporting them, as they are supposed to. The tedious, repetitive nature of the industrial machinery also illuminates Chaplin’s insinuated idea that society is cruelly molding man and industry into one; this reduces the value of the human core, which consists of life, emotion, etc. Underneath all of its layers, the film is an exploration as well as a statement concerning the human condition and its victorious moments as well as defeats in the face of the Great Depression.

Chaplin’s naturally light-hearted and happy demeanor, his purity of heart, and his good will saturate the entire film with a tone of idealism and hope, making the comedic identity of the film much more vibrant. The orchestral soundtrack also helps to magnify this, as the music most oftentimes reflects the dispositions of the corresponding characters and the action of the narrative sequences.

The young, vivacious orphan woman eventually (and inevitably) meets Chaplin’s character, and they become partners in crime. Throughout the film, I found the dynamic between the couple very endearing; the way Chaplin’s character looks at her and smiles at her was so pure and genuine, especially when he curiously and admiringly addressed her newly-bought attire. The couple incites an emotional response within the audience, consistently, as we identify with their struggles and their emotions.

Ultimately, the bittersweet, open-ended last scene of the film – when Chaplin’s character and his girl walk away together – conveys an optimistic, heartening note of finality and emphasizes the unlikely yet enduring strength of the main characters despite their misfortunes during a time of social and economic oppression.

Modern Times, Week 3

Modern Times definitely showed a good deal of repetition with the themes and events. One of the more explicit features was the music: you could always tell what was happening in the scene by the tempo of the music, which was very appropriately matched with the emotion and energy of the scene. While Chaplin was always accidentally getting himself into trouble, there was always some upbeat and lively music playing as the soundtrack to his shenanigans. Meanwhile, the orphan girl who was misbehaving just to put food on the table was accompanied typically by more depressing or slow music. It was rather cyclical as Chaplin kept going back to jail and the girl was always there waiting for him to get out (although the nature of the relationship was rather confusing to me).

Another repetitive theme in Modern Times is Chaplin being the “black sheep.” After being intrigued and slightly perplexed by the opening scene (the herd of sheep and one black sheep), I quickly started to make the symbolic connection. Chaplin was always dressed differently, slightly smaller, had different facial expressions and body language, etc. than the rest of the characters that surrounded him. He was always getting himself into all sorts of trouble to the point where you were SHOCKED that he didn’t roller-skate right off that construction site in the mall. Slowly, the viewers witness Chaplin getting small victories though, only to be let down again and again. This continues until the end when he finally achieves happiness and the simplicity that he and the somewhat mysterious girl have been trying to achieve the whole time.

These cyclical themes hold true to a rather implicit meaning. To me, the silence played a big part in this form. Chaplin goes through the whole film unable to fit in and unable to be successful, even with mundane tasks such as factory work and apprenticeship. But at the end, when he is finally successful, it is by singing of all things. You hear his voice finally and he is singing! And what do you know…he’s a great success and everybody loves him. He uses the creative outlet to find something he was good at and I think that shows that for some people, the run-of-the-mill jobs just aren’t going to work. Chaplin is simply the black sheep standing up for all the black sheep out there.

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.

WEEK 3 “Modern Times (1936)”

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.