Thursday, January 17, 2008

Modern times

Chaplin's movie “Modern Times" is tinged with sarcasm. The word "modern" expresses a new age, a wave of change, leaving the old for the better, instead the movie portrayed quite the opposite. Chaplin expressed the hardship of the masses resulting from the elimination of the middle class, the wave of industrialization and their fight for survival.

Modern times is a movie about strife during the birth of industrialization, coupled with the economic crisis faced by the masses. It expresses the hardships of the early 20th century, a period of depression.

Finding employment was difficult and retaining it was an even more daunting task. This was a result of the wave of industrialization as the workers gradually lost their jobs to the machines. A common thread throughout the movie is that of the struggle to survive. Chaplin illustrates this in the characters of Gamin stealing a loaf of bread, the thieves robbing for food and even Chaplin himself who would prefer jail to life outside.

There was also the stratification of classes that occurred during this time as seen in the scene with the boss sitting comfortably in his office while overworking his employees. Also attempting to maximize the input of his workers by minimizing their time off the assembly line, Chaplin reinforces the Marxist idea that in an industrialized society people become less valued than machines.

“Modern times, a story of industry, of individual enterprise –humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness.” This statement epitomizes the sarcasm.

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