Summary of Modern Times (1936)- Charlie Chaplin Essay

Plot Summary

The small hobo works in a futuristic mill fastening bolts that base on balls by on a conveyer belt. One twenty-four hours he has a nervous dislocation from the emphasis of his occupation and creates pandemonium in the works before being carted off. Recovered from this episode. he is wrongfully jailed as the leader of a public violence. After holding an gratifying prison stay. he is released but finds life on the outside hard. He tries to acquire thrown back in prison by taking the incrimination for an orphaned gamine who was caught stealing some staff of life. However. the two wind up populating together in a creaky hovel. and the hobo goes back to work at a mill as a mechanic’s helper.

But the mill closes down because of a work stoppage. and the hobo is once more falsely held for assailing a police officer in a public violence. When he gets out of gaol. the gamine has found a occupation in a coffeehouse with singing servers and promises to acquire him one excessively. The hobo fails miserably as a server but succeeds in entertaining the clients. and it looks like the two have found steady employment. However. orphanhood governments arrive and seek to take the gamine off. but she escapes with the hobo. The concluding sequence shows the two roving along a desolate route. The gamine starts to shout. but the hobo encourages her non to give up. They start their journey together. walking down the route toward the skyline.


Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times is an entertaining comedy and besides a keenly ascertained piece of societal unfavorable judgment. In many earlier Chaplin movies. this type of review was besides present. but in Modern Times it comes to the head. The film’s negative position of industrialisation and its dehumanizing effects on adult male is presented likewise in Rene Clair’s every bit interesting A Nous La liberte. Chaplin’s version is possibly more humourous and besides portions an uncontrollable sense of optimism in the face of society’s unfairnesss. It seems that even when showing a denouncement of the inequalities associated with capitalist economy. the filmmaker’s humanitarianism and generousness remain apparent. The movie puts the efficient. mechanised mill puting in direct struggle with the people that work at that place. In one of the most celebrated scenes. the small hobo is ‘swallowed’ by an assembly line machine. and a similar incident occurs subsequently to the machinist he is assisting.

These scenes. along with the frequent machine malfunctions displayed. suggest that adult male is functioning his machines more than they are working for him. Modern engineering is besides shown to be an oppressive tool used by upper direction to supervise the workers. The supporter can non even take a short interruption without being harassed by the “Big Brother” telecasting screen on the wall stating him to acquire back to work. This occurs in the men’s public toilet of all topographic points. proposing that these commanding devices destroy single privateness. Furthermore. the movie proposes that this environment works in turning people into programmed machinery themselves. as illustrated by the chief character’s nervous dislocation.

The jittery procedure he must travel through to command his trained custodies shows the duality created between world and occupation. Finally. he is unable to divide the two and goes berserk in the mill. trying to fasten anything resembling the two bolts of the assembly line ; people and objects have become the same. simply things to execute the intended map upon. This thought reflects how workers are frequently treated as simple costs. much like other equipment. when analysing a concern for efficient running and cost minimisation. Similarly. the company president seems to reject the eating device non because it is absurd and inhumane but because it won’t work right—”it isn’t practical. ”

Another amusing illustration of the dehumanising impact of industrialisation occurs while the machinist is stuck in a machine. As the small tramp battles to liberate him. the tiffin whistle all of a sudden sounds. and he instantly goes to recover his tiffin instead than go on seeking to liberate his foreman. When the machinist interrupts his Pavlovian response to remind him of the quandary. once more. the hobo attempts the hard undertaking of feeding him alternatively of acquiring him out of the machine—after all. it’s ‘lunch time’ . By overstating the factory’s conditioning. possibly merely somewhat. the movie makes both humourous and challenging points.

Outside of the fabrication works. things aren’t much better ; work stoppages and public violences. like the one in which the gamine’s male parent is killed. suggest people aren’t happy with the manner things are. In an dry sequence. the small tramp attempts to return a flag ( assumedly red ) that has fallen off a ephemeral truck and is wrongly arrested as a Communist fomenter. This remark on Chaplin’s changeless examination by the authorities became even more accurate in ulterior old ages as the U. S. plagued itself further with anti-Communist paranoia. The movie proposes that in this upside down society. prison is one of the few topographic points the supporter can loosen up and bask life. He is rewarded for single-handedly stamp downing a breakout. accomplished merely after unwittingly consuming another inmate’s hidden cocaine.

This humourous scene besides more subtly casts uncertainty on those that society makes into heroes. After being released the hobo begins to hanker for the simple life of the prison and efforts to acquire arrested once more by ingurgitating himself on nutrient and smoking a all right cigar without paying for them. His playfully lawless actions provide a comedic corruption of capitalistic rules. Besides. much later. comedy is made out of an seemingly rich and disdainful eating house client who becomes progressively angry while waiting for his joint duck to get. The man’s irritation is apprehensible but is given proper position by earlier scenes demoing the gamine fighting for a few pieces of fruit or a loaf of staff of life. The stealers in the section shop are characterized non as nefarious but as simply hungry and out-of-work. The movie clearly sympathizes with the lower categories that are misused by the wealthy and that must fight to last.

Chaplin’s character is called the small hobo for good ground ; he seems to be content with his transient but unworried life style. He merely becomes motivated to rejoin the rat race by the orphaned gamine. played by the lovely Paulette Goddard. Their shared vision is a really amusing sarcasm of a Utopian businessperson place life that elicits laughter from the hobo but clearly entreaties to the gamine. He notices her reaction and decides to altruistically prosecute this lofty goal—”even if I have to work for it. ” The hovel they take impermanent abode in is. of class. far from their ideal. so the hobo thirstily rushes off to work at the reopened mills. Once at that place. he unfalteringly clears his manner through the crowd and is the last 1 allowed to work that twenty-four hours.

These scenes. although satiric. supply an interesting counterpoint to the remainder of the film’s contempt for capitalistic ethos. Now holding something to work for exterior of himself. the hobo will even force others out of the manner to acquire a occupation. But. once more. the system defeats him as another work stoppage forces him out of his occupation ( before his ain incompetency would hold ) . When the twosome eventually find something they can both make good. they must fly the menace of institutionalization for the gamine. which the authorities thinks would be in her best involvement. Yet as the gamine’s spirit seems broken by all of the adversities. the small hobo tells her to maintain seeking and asks her to smile. The concluding image of the two walking towards the skyline suggests that the best manner to confront an indifferent and unsure hereafter is with the company of person else.

All of the spoken words in the movie. except for the tramp’s singing public presentation. come from assorted machines. This technique illustrates the fright of machines going excessively commanding and of replacing adult male in some areas—of the universe going more dispassionate and mechanized. But it besides allows Chaplin to widen his mastermind for soundless comedy. every bit good as play. and demo how sound is unneeded to convey both wit and emotion ; frequently. hapless use of sound will earnestly take away from the effectivity of a movie. Critically. it seems that Chaplin’s silent ( or near-silent ) movies have stood the trial of clip better than his sound ones–and better than most sound images in general. Modern Times is surely no exclusion. Not merely is it a really amusing movie. but it besides has significant thematic deepness every bit good. being both pessimistic about society and optimistic about humanity.


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