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Drama, Romance, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Charles Chaplin
Paulette Goddard as A Gamin
Henry Bergman as Cafe Proprietor
Tiny Sandford as Big Bill
Hank Mann as Burglar
Stanley Blystone as Gamin's Father
Al Ernest Garcia as President of the Electro Steel Corp.
Richard Alexander as Prison Cellmate (as Dick Alexander)
Cecil Reynolds as Minister
Mira McKinney as Minister's Wife (as Myra McKinney)
Murdock MacQuarrie as J. Widdecombe Billows
Wilfred Lucas as Juvenile Officer
Edward LeSaint as Sheriff Couler
Storyline: Chaplins last 'silent' film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital... When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.
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A Classic
This is where I decided to have a look at Charlie Chaplin and his famous "Modern times" - we are all familiar with scenes in a factory but honestly there is much, much more happening later and it truly surprised me that film turns into a such epic saga. Another example of things I just assumed I know. It charmed me instantly, of course, because Chaplin was a true genius and magician - his creation, "Little Tramp" is easily understood to anybody no matter what background and we love him dearly, for all his sweetness, clumsiness and old heart. This story apparently happens in Metropolis-like factory where work, machines and buttons are parodied mercilessly until we (audience) roar with laughter - I was honestly surprised that something filmed almost a century ago was still so fresh and funny. Basically, everything after the first start on the fast track was new to me and I laughed and laughed, until I found myself rewinding scenes and enjoying them again. What a genius!

Once Little Tramp looses his job - there is a whole unspoken atmosphere of unfairness, poverty and depression around - he quickly ends up in a prison, from which he doesn't even want to leave. However, he gets Cocaine in his salt, (Charlie Chaplin on a Coke!), saves policemen from escaped criminals, meets minister's wife (very funny scene) and gets release from the prison, with job recommendation letter. And this is still just a beginning of the movie! There is much, much more coming up later - it really goes on forever but its wonderful, heart-warming and joyous to watch. I almost forgot everything about myself and my whereabouts while I was so deeply lost in this masterpiece. Film is so immensely rich with characters, stories, little details and magic that I honestly think its one of the best things I have ever seen.
This very well written story never lets down from the very first image we see, flocking sheep compared with rushing urban human crowds, to the very ending. Excellent criticism of the Taylorism/capitalistic through humor relevant for any age, nationality or time; story-telling that would touch anyone alike in a universal fashion, every now and then sparkled with Chaplin's unique and deeply influential sense of humor and on-screen comedy. Hilarious in moments, and unique. A man of many talents clearly, and excellent at those. Overall this depicts quite a zany approach to life, one that is pure in essence and profoundly antagonistic with the current ways of the time, and ways of today still: a life dominated by one-track thinking, rigid and stubborn social etiquette, and the enslavement this new world has brought in so many aspects to the human species. Finally, it highlights the importance of never giving up; EVER; and the preciousness of love.
Chaplin's Best, No Debate
This is the story of the modern man, living in a time with busy streets, tiresome jobs and nervous breakdowns. How will he cope? What of the modern prisons and drugs? And of unemployment (between a Great Depression and a World War)? Written by, directed by, produced by, edited by, music composed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin. A true genius.

The factory is not just "modern" but futuristic in a sense, looking like 1950s and 1960s sci-fi films. There are monitors everywhere (shades of "1984") and gigantic switches and cranks, and robots doing uniquely humanlike things.

Chaplin, a socialist sympathizer, was clearly attacking the capitalist system in this film, particularly the idea of the assembly line and how monotonous it is. The film even goes so far as to show ways a company could make men even more like machines -- feeding them in line so as not to need a lunch break.

Hooray for the "gamin" (Paulette Goddard), the child of the waterfront who refuses to go hungry! (The film's use of "gamin" is interesting to me for two reasons: one, the word is male, with the female being a gamine; two, it is today a more or less dead word, with the current popular term being "street urchin".) And hooray for Chaplin's dancing, which was just about the highlight of the film.
"Modern Times" and the negative effects of modernization
"Modern Times" by Charlie Chaplin is a comedy but also a scathing commentary on the effects of modernization on the individual. The movie shows one man and one woman's trials and tribulations during the "Great Depression".

"Modern Times" follows the life of the factory worker (Charlie Chaplin) and the Gamin (his wife at the time). The factory worker's life is shown beginning with an incredibly poignant fade from a herd of pigs being corralled down a caged in hallway presumably toward their slaughter to a mass exodus of humans from a subway entrance. This immediately makes one imagine that the humans are exactly like the pigs being led to slaughter, but the slaughter the humans are facing, or so the film espouses, is the slaughter of their individuality. The movie shows all of the workers in the factory toiling very hard to keep up with their grinding jobs as the factory owner sits on his rear and has breakfast and relaxes as he watches the workers through a closed circuit television system. He constantly is forcing the workers to work harder for the same pay.

One of the most interesting things done in the movie is having the thing selling the automatic feeding machine be a machine itself. This shows a glimpse into our own future commenting on machines taking our jobs like most jobs at car factories are now done by robots. The factory owner tries out the automatic feeding machine on the factory worker, hoping that the machine would allow him to stretch his worker's days even longer by ending the lunch break. This shows the rich, the factory owner, exploiting the poor, the factory worker, and how the rich continue to get richer on the backs of the poor. Eventually the stress of it all takes its toll on the factory worker and he cracks.

The themes of modernization ripping away individuality, the rich exploiting the poor, and individuality sticking out in a bad way continue throughout the movie. You at once laugh at the factory workers exploits but at the same time feel his pain. The comedy shows a less depressing way to look at the problems allowing for a hopeful view for tomorrow and the possibility of finding solutions. The movie has great meaning even today about the injustices of modernization.
Chaplin's masterpiece is still heartbreaking when viewed today
While many are partial to "City Lights", I regard "Modern Times" to be Chaplin's finest film. While both are equal for sheer poignancy, "Modern Times" is more interesting from a cinematic point of view. It is, however, an extremely close race between the two masterpieces. The odd thing is I've never regarded Chaplin as being absolutely hilarious. There's a bunch of other early screen clowns whom I prefer for humor value (such as Buster Keaton, who was always more innovative with the medium anyways). What makes Chaplin work though is his sense of pathos. The little tramp is one of film's most memorable and well-developed characters, an underdog whom the audience always feels sympathy for. Chaplin's sense of anti-authoritarianism (despite these films not being political tracts, the bourgeoisie aristocrats are never depicted in a favorable light) is also enduring.

As usual, Chaplin's direction is quite skilled and "Modern Times" may be his most creative when it comes down to pure film-making technique. The combination of silent pantomime with sound is pulled off in a way thats so good no one else really dared to try it. There's several very memorable sequences, especially the ones in the assembly line factory (Chaplin's nervous breakdown is the comedic highlight of the film). As Chaplin's love interest, Paulette Goddard does a serviceable job and is certainly easy on the eyes. Unfortunately for her, like many other Chaplin films, "Modern Times" becomes dated and rather sappy when the little tramp isn't on screen. Still, there are few films are poignant as this one. (9/10)
"Buck up - never say die. We'll get along"
By 1936, Charles Chaplin was already an anachronism – albeit, an anachronism who was also treasured as an artistic genius. The arrival of 'The Jazz Singer (1927)' did little to curb the director's enthusiasm for silent cinema, and, though he considered at length the commercial implications of converting to synchronised sound, his first film in the "talkie" age was almost completely silent (Chaplin compromised by composing a musical score). Nevertheless, the critical and commercial response to 'City Lights (1931)' was strong, reaffirming Chaplin's status as a cinematic master, and vindicating his decision to linger with an otherwise extinct medium. Thus, 'Modern Times (1936)' was to follow in the same mould, despite a synchronised soundtrack which includes a musical score, sound effects and several lines of spoken dialogue (always spoken through a mechanical "barrier," such as a record-player, radio or loudspeaker). The film is historically significant in that it was Chaplin's first overtly political work, raising concerns inspired both by the economic hardship of the Great Depression, and Chaplin's growing interest in socialism.

The title 'Modern Times' is used to deliberate ironic effect. Traditionally, to be modern was to be at the forefront of human progress, a step forwards in Man's noble attempt to assert his dominance over his environment; in short, to further distinguish our species from the lower animals. Yet Chaplin believed that such widespread industrialisation was a step backwards for society. Even from the opening shot, he draws comparisons between the hustling crowds of factory workers travelling to work, and a flock of sheep being herded through a corral. The dehumanisation caused by the workers' monotonous factory work is played for maximum comedic effect, with Chaplin's Tramp eventually driven to a nervous breakdown by Frederick Taylor's apathetic brand of scientific management. In these conditions, direct human interaction is minimal, and almost always channelled through an mechanical mediator. In a scene predating Orwell's "Nineteen-Eighty Four (1949)," Chaplin is reprimanded by a telescreen in the bathroom, the image of his boss looming overhead like the spectre of Big Brother.

Chaplin may also have been remarking upon the rise of the Hollywood studio system, which by then employed a comparable assembly-line approach to film-making. Chaplin, who was given full artistic control through his co-ownership of United Artists, worked in complete opposition to these practices, though it could be argued that his perfectionism and often improvisational style was so inefficient that only an artist as wealthy as he could have gotten away with it. Truth be told, there's nothing particularly distinguished about Chaplin's direction – despite his strong reliance upon actions over words, his silent films were never as visually accomplished as that of Murnau or Lang, for example. However, his greatest talents as a filmmaker were concerned with the plight of people, and, however much sentimentality he liked to dish out, there can be no doubt that, in Chaplin's characters, one found individuals with whom they shared a very real human bond, of empathy and compassion. For all the director's criticism of modern society, he possessed a genuine belief in the value of human spirit.

When Chaplin came under fire for alleged "communist sympathies" in the late 1940s, the content of 'Modern Times' was scrutinised for evidence to support the allegations. Certainly, within the director's distaste for industrialisation one may discern an underlying dissatisfaction with capitalism, but Chaplin was definitely not a communist; after all, a prime motivation in his choosing to continue producing silent films was to retain his commercial popularity in foreign-language markets – that's the capitalist spirit! Nevertheless, Chaplin was eerily prescient when he included a scene in which his Tramp is falsely accused of being a communist, mirroring his own intense political troubles, which concluded in 1952 with the retraction of his US re-entry visa. Though he was initially hesitant about breaking his screen silence, as Chaplin's political convictions grew, so too did his desire to have himself heard. For that, he would, however reluctantly, have to embrace the technology of sound, and, for a mouthpiece, he would choose the most hated man in Europe.
A Timeless Gem!
MODERN TIMES is Chaplins final silent film. However, he used modern sound techniques in recording the soundtracks.

There are parts of this film that will make you laugh out loud, and other parts that will bring you to near-tears. The dialogue is almost non existent. The music and sound effects are topnotch.

Chaplins timing was great. Every time I see this film I see something that he does that I never noticed previously.

If you have not seen this film, then by all means do. You won't regret it.
Modern Times
In the 1930s, technology was increasing faster than people could've imagined 30 years ago, and factories were simply becoming normal at this point. The world was moving faster than ever before, and I'm sure the workers at the factories couldn't help but feel like they were being used as just another cog in the machine. "Productivity" became more important than the workers well being and big company bosses - as well as the machines themselves - seemed to be controlling the workers. The machines seemed to be taking jobs from the actual human beings and this feeling is perfectly conveyed in Charlie Chaplin's great "Modern Times".

I don't need to go into an in depth analysis to point out the parts of the film that convey these points but the most impressive aspect of this film is how genuinely funny it manages to be while making this point. From the lunch machine and the Tramp's mental breakdown to the entire jail scene, this is by far the funniest Chaplin movie I've seen yet, and one of the funniest silent films I've seen.

Speaking of the lunch machine, the film's main point is perhaps portrayed with more clarity and hilarity in this scene than any other scene in the film, and that point is this: Humans aren't machines, and machines aren't perfect, and neither of those should be treated as such.

As well as that bit of commentary it has a sweet story involving a young homeless girl and the Tramp and an optimistic ending in which they literally walk off into the sunset. It may sound trite, but in this story there's no telling if they'll be OK, the important thing is that they believe they will and they shouldn't stop trying, and that seems to be the most important thing to Charlie Chaplin, who seems to convey this message in one way or another in every film he makes.
A fabulous movie
Modern Times- Now, this movie is the first Chaplin flick I've seen

yet, and it was very funny. Charlie Chaplin keeps the pace and light

speed, has you laughing around every corner, and even makes

you feel for some of these charecters, though they aren't very well

developed. Chaplin skipped all the rules of cinema with this film,

including plot and well developed charecters and personalities.

But he pays it off while writing, producing, directing, and starring in

this near silent film about a man who works in a factory but

encounters many problems including unemployment, love, jail,

and all that jazz.

The comedy in this film can be enjoyed by just about everyone,

young and old. The film is a landmark in cinema in that it has

beautiful music, very witty and funny writing, and a likeable lead

charecter. It's hard not to enjoy this film, especially if you are into

slapstick, endless sight gags, and general excitement, no matter

what is happening. I strongly recommend this film to viewers

young and old, and hope that you will take the time to watch this

short and sweet Chaplin film. 9/10
Our Modern Times
Said Barodi

Charlie Chaplin And a Look at Our Own Modern Times

Once again I get to enjoy watching Charlie Chaplin's master piece Modern Times. The movie possesses this quality that I can interpret it in many different ways according to the events prevailing in periods during which I watched it. The movie could be interpreted politically, artistically, socially and technologically. It possesses these prophetic and futuristic visions of the world we live in today. But this time, as I watch Modern Times again, it came at a very interesting period in my generation's lifetime which is the worst economic crisis since the depression of the thirties. Watching Modern Times reminded me that our economy hasn't learned the lessons taught by the depression of the thirties and that if we don't shape up the economy we might as well be heading for another one soon. As I watched the movie I couldn't stop thinking about my last tour in the state of Michigan with my in-laws. During my last visit to Michigan I watched the iconic state of United States economic power disintegrate in front of my eyes. They were abandoned houses everywhere in Detroit, lines of jobless people lining up in front of day labor spots and unemployment offices. The infrastructure of the city is falling apart, rust everywhere from abandoned factories to bridges. Roads were filled with pot holes. The iconic towers of GM simply looked miserable and macabre; the State of Michigan was dying. As we all followed on the news for the last few months, the iconic state of Michigan was falling apart as the big three, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were preparing to file for bankruptcy and were laying off thousands of their workers and shutting down many factories and dealerships. The chain reaction from the fall was not limited to Michigan or to the auto industry, it was everywhere, it was nationwide. When I watched Modern Times again it gave me another insight as to what happened exactly, or part of what I believe happened. As Charlie Chaplin carries on his monotonic and tedious task of screwing two bolts to a part moving fast on a mechanized belt, I thought about the generations upon generations of blue collar workers who were brought up in an industrial culture that supremely valued efficiency to the point it neglected the human factor in the production chain. Generations of blue collar workers who where brought up in the auto industry of Michigan and other industries that use the same production methods as those portrayed by Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. The results were disastrous every time an economic crisis hit, the industry produced hordes of unskilled workers who received no cross training or opportunity to advance within those industries in a way that would allow them to compete and obtain jobs in case they were laid off. The monotonic tasks immensely limited the workers' creativity and skill level to the point were they became solely reliant on the same employer and work place and unable to adapt to economic and industrial changes such as recessions and outsourcing. I believe that Charlie Chaplin's critic of the efficiency-above-all model of production is time-proof and still applies to our own modern times. It is time to restructure the US industry in a way that it puts emphasis on the human factor and instills ingenuity and creativity in the American worker.
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