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Asfandyar Arbab
Mar 31, 2018
AMS 2270
Modern Times
The movie, “Modern Times”, is a 1936 silent comedy movie written and directed
by Charlie Chaplin in which his Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern,
industrialized world. Although “Modern Times” was a comedy movie, it had reflected a wide
aspects of American society. It is the story of the people after industrialization. At the beginning
of the movie, a shot of flock of sheep was appeared then next workers rush out of a subway was
shown. Workers are like sheep’s. As Domestic animals obey their masters, now present-day
human have to comply the new system. The “Modern Times” shows a clear picture of American
culture in twentieth century. It criticizes the technological contributions and highlights the
negative results of industrialization that makes it difficult to tell the difference between man and
machine in this rapidly growing society. They are trying to show this that men have become
slaves of their own creations with major focus on unemployment, hunger, inequality and
financial conditions faced by many people during Great Depression.
“Modern Times” comes out of sci-fi to real life as it analyzes and explores the more
extensive subject of American culture during Great Depression. Where hypothesis would give a
long boring explanations and views, Chaplin utilizes his humor to better criticize the exploitation
of man by machine. The workers turns into a part of the machine, de-humanities people whose
conduct resembles that of a robot, keep repeating the same task. It is noticeable that in the movie
there was a scene where Chaplin was seen tightening the nut bolts every day in the same way.
The movie shows that how workers are busy with their works and they are so involved in their
jobs that they can’t take out time for themselves. Chaplin’s movie sparked a concern or cause of
worry about industrialization in America. Also describing the issues in society with an example
of automatic feeding machine designed so that workers can continue working during their lunch
breaks. During this movie, a clear example of inequality and prejudice classes are shown. The
boss, demanding much discipline and quick work from his employers, is only interested in
developing his business. Interested on being better than his competitors, he chose Chaplin for a
new machine evaluation so that, after this machine they can remove lunch time. Here we can
compare the modern worker to a dependent domestic animal, tolerating what ace says, with no
right of choosing or making own decisions. At last, the experiment failed leaving Chaplin injured
and confused. He with his acting and story is criticizing the technological contribution that
workers are now part of machines which is basically controlling their lives. There is a scene in
the movie which shows how machines resulted in the benefits of some and how it affected others
like, the factory owner is seen relaxing and giving instructions to his assistance who have to
work under harsh conditions.
Through the movie, we can have an outline of the lives in the 20th century American
culture. With this industrialization and progressing society, one more major problem arises in
America which were jobs. A time came when millions of people were unemployed leading to
huge poverty and hunger and this also increases the crime rate, people used to steal in order to
survive. The character of Charlie Chaplin and Gamine-a young orphan also symbolized the
element of poverty, especially through their life style, homelessness and stealing things. It was a
time characterized by high unemployment rates and social issues. It started after 1929’s
economic crisis. Stock market crash almost billion dollars were lost in 5 hours. Businesses and
factories start closing down so many people were unemployed. During that period shanty towns
were becoming popular. Tramp was a jobless person with no legitimate clothes nor a house to
live. It is noticeable from the movie that it was not easy for poor people like the Tramp to find a
good job. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin also conveyed the reality of American separated
society at that time. The rich had everything and they did not had to worry about anything.
Through his character he shows how poor people were illustrating around the really awful
situation at that time and with an example in the movie which shows how boss was just
sitting in the room, watching workers using cameras and big screens. The movie is appeared to
be against the capitalism where modernity is appeared as the chaos, the worker loses everything
while government controls it. We can clearly see the inequality and inconvenience set up by the
rich class in the film, first the boss, then the police and finally the government.
As a result of America moving towards the industrialization and the great depression, a
lot of problems arises in America. The movie reflects the poverty in America in 20th century and
the desire of having a better life. Beyond all the challenges and poverty, the dreams and hopes
of good and happy life had gotten to be an unending source of inspiration for the journey.
Together they experience a series of misadventures including a number of fights with the
police, night went through in a department store and a romantic scene. They still continued
their journey even though they faced a lot of inconvenience like Charlie was imprisoned when
burglars broke into and cleared the department store and the scene when they
both gotten away from the custody officers. The climate with the rise of unemployment and
the decline of living conditions, is presented by these two characters in the movie. Time as
appeared in the starting clearly shows that every moment counts, the time spent in the factory
and the business which made through this, as time is money. This is an important topic
depicted throughout the movie, the production in the factory in which Chaplin works keeps
being fastened each time so as in competition with the other factories.
Chaplin’s “Modern Times” criticizes the growing industrial and progressing society. Men
had now become slaves of their own creations which has led to an increase in unemployment
and crime rate. Machines progressively replaced people at work, so people didn’t have money
to buy the new things or to go anywhere. The economy crashed down and this deep fall is
described in the movie through the description of the living conditions of both these
characters-Charlie Chaplin and his girlfriend. Despite all the hardships and disappointments,
they still continued to live their life happily and were ready to confront the future problems. At
the end of the movie, they both are shown lonely on the street with nothing but ready to face
whatever the future may bring. Furthermore, the movie showed us that happiness is to find
ultimately in hope and a person should never give up.
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