Modern Times

Modern Times.” A story of industry, of individual enterprise – humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness. — Modern Times, opening title card

A critique of the modern industrialized world, Modern Times is the last Charlie Chaplin movie to feature the lovable character of Little Tramp. The movie shows the Tramp as he struggles to make a living in the economy affected by the Great Depression when the cards are stacked against the common folk. It’s a wonderful achievement of slapstick comedy, with every scene filled with charm and wit.

Modern Times follows the Little Tramp as he works on an assembly line in a factory. The stress of the ever-increasing pace of the machine causes him to have a nervous breakdown, destroying everything in his path. Eventually, he’s hospitalized, but as soon as he recovers from his ordeal, he’s arrested for being a leader in a Communist demonstration.

How did he get there, you ask? To that, we might say… have you ever seen a Charlie Chaplin movie before?

If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for, but if you have, then you know what a great comedic timing this scene has. The Tramp is, as always, a figure to be laughed at and pitied at the same time. He doesn’t belong in the world he tries to fit in. There’s an idealism about his character, but also a profound sadness.

In any case, he accidentally takes cocaine in jail (which is quite a controversial scene for the time), and this somehow causes him to stop a jailbreak attempt. Freedom finds him looking for a job and meeting Ellen, an orphaned girl played by Paulette Goddard. She is the one who changes the tone of this movie into a romantic one, but it doesn’t feel forced at all. In fact, it adds richness to it, a flavor of older Chaplin movies we know and love. The Tramp is determined to get back in jail, but Ellen shows him a different side to life. She shows him a hopeful future, and this future makes him want to work hard so that he could support it.

Unfortunately, luck doesn’t seem to be on his side. Or does it only appear so?

And as always, Charlie Chaplin manages to say so much without ever using sensible words. He shows determination and spirit through a set of accidents and in the face of a decaying world, and does it with his recognizable charm that no other actor was able to imitate.

This is the first Charlie Chaplin movie that featured his voice, as he sang a song in gibberish. At first, this was supposed to be a “talkie”, but Chaplin was worried that his character would lose its universal appeal if it was heard talking. The film was criticized because of it, with the argument that film has moved on from the silent era by the release of Modern Times. We believe he was right! We love Chaplin’s subsequent movies, but we feel that the choice he made for Modern Times ensure the continuity of the character of the Little Tramp.

The movie is shot in the speed of 18 frames per second, but it’s projected at 24 frames per second, making the situations portrayed even funnier and more exciting.

Although Charlie Chaplin will make you laugh hysterically at his character’s antics, the movie is a serious social commentary. He shows us a glimpse of desperation faced by the poor, the homeless, and the maladjusted members of the modern society. It’s about the necessity of hard work, but also about the futility of effort in a world where different values take the lead.

No matter your age, this is a touching, timeless masterpiece that everyone can relate to. You won’t regret seeing it.

IMDb 4.2 /5
4.2 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 5 /5
5 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4.7 /5
4.7 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

4.63out of 5

Good
4.63 out of 5
Category Comedy

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