Modern Times

Modern Times and Issue of Advancing Technology

Chaplin’s Modern Times was a silent film, an unusual sight in the burgeoning era of “talkies,” or films with synchronized human voices. Chaplin felt that the art of filmmaking was already at its peak and that adding additional features such as voice into the film would detract from the overall comedic experience. Chaplin’s best known character, “the tramp,” was an ideal example of how portrayal of emotions and dialogue between characters could occur without voice. It wasn’t the lack of available technology that prompted Chaplin to stay with the age-old tactics, but actually a protest against the so-called machinery of “progress” that began to rule over the lives of humans in the film.

Chaplin viewed the era of machinery as controlling and dehumanizing. The factory where Charlie works is dark and depressing, with no windows or view of the outside world. The workers are covered in dirty grease, signifying a harsh working environment. The machines in the factory are large, dirty, and crude devices, capable of huge forces and seemingly towering over the humans like obsessive supervisors. The workers toil in mundane jobs all day, such as tightening two bolts on a metal plate, while the manager pulls a lever to control how fast the...

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