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Charlie Chaplin Modern Times

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Modern Times Response I believe the movie Modern Times, written, directed, scored, and produced by Charlie Chaplin, was Chaplin?s way to show, through comedy, the struggle between man and machine; and, people trying desperately to find intrinsic happiness during that depressive time. Mankind, as expressed by the movie, was at the mercy of the machines, the bosses, and the clocks in order to obtain the needs of food and shelter. The machines become a motif from the beginning of the film. In the montage at the beginning, the film portrays man to be quite minute compared to the machine, somewhat of a bug trying to scurry to get to the job. Machines are portrayed through out the film in this way. The scene in the beginning when is when Chaplin gets sucked into the machine and spit back out is later mirrored in the film when the Chaplin and the mechanic are working on a huge machine, and the head mechanic gets sucked into the machine. At that point, Charlie feeds the mechanic just as the machine fed him earlier. This was Chaplin?s way of expressing, through comedy, how the machinery was dehumanizing people during the Industrial Era. Everything from the machinery to the people was forced to move faster obligated by the boss and the clock.

The clock quickly became another motif in the film. The idea of ?beating the clock? became very evident from the opening shot of the film; the film begins with just showing the face of a clock ticking while rolling the opening credits. Next, all of the workers were shown punching in on the time clocks. Moreover, Chaplin is shown many times punching the clock himself including him punching the clock on his breaks, at lunchtime, and at the department store. Lastly, Chaplin smashing the family heirloom of the mechanics becomes the destruction of the clock. At last, the clock gets beat. The clock becomes a motif because everyone is being forced to compete with it. The competition with the clock stems from the time they were living in, and the depressed economy of the Industrial Era. Comically, Chaplin expressed the hardships of the time, and the sparseness of food and shelter.

Lastly, food and homes were motifs used by Chaplin to comically convey his message of the times. The Tramp and the gamin are continually looking for a home and food through out the movie. The gamin, refusing to starve, is introduced in her opening scene stealing bananas then bringing them back to the home to help her family. Meanwhile, the Tramp sits cozily in the jailhouse receiving three hot meals and a cot. The Tramp remains perfectly happy in the cell after being treated like a king because he disrupted a dastardly jailhouse break. Sadly enough, he is told to leave. Leaving Chaplin homeless, he is determined to find something equal to a home, be it in jail, or not. Finally, the Tramp and the gamin find a shack to call their home and have food to eat. All of these motifs compliment one another in the main theme in the film; the theme is showing how depressive the times were in their Modern Times.

Alas, Charlie has one more thought in mind. The underlying theme is the pursuit of happiness and love in such a despairing time as the Depression. Chaplin, as usual, is comically trying to display how people can overcome the times, and live a life of happiness and love, despite the terrible signs of their time. I believe that is why the movie is called Modern Times. Chaplin used this film to express how in the modern times of any man, no matter how good or bad, happiness and love can prevail.

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