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Modern Times

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
What the MPAA Rating should be: G

Directed by: Charles Chaplin
Written by: Charles Chaplin
Produced by: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Tiny Sandford, Allan Garcia, Henry Bergman
Studio: United Artists

Everywhere people look, there is someone staring at a machine. Computers have become more popular than they were ten years ago. Gameboys and iPods are constantly used by young people the world over. Even "mom and pop" stores rely on machines. Who predicted that all this was going to happen? One person did in 1936 and his name was Charles Chaplin. The world's greatest director said all this in his best film Modern Times. Obviously predicting the future wasn't Chaplin's only intention. He also wanted to take his beloved Tramp character to bigger and more exciting settings. The gags are important for all of Chaplin's comedic pictures and Modern Times is no exception. Finally, the Tramp was given a real love interest and one who the viewers want Chaplin to get together with. Modern Times stands as not only one of the funniest, but also one of the most important movies of all-time.

One of the most famous images from Modern Times is one showing the Tramp in the middle of a group of cogs. What most people don't know is what occurs after, which involves the Tramp becoming crazy and being sent to a mental asylum. This represents something that was happening to factory workers at the time. Chaplin understood the workers' problems and was able to show what was happening to them on screen in a comedic, but respective manner. However, the main reason that Modern Times has become timeless is because it is still relevant in today's society. Technology can be found everywhere nowadays, so much so that people are now obsessed with getting the newest game system or portable video device. Chaplin feared that that would happen and he used his film to show the future decay of society. About a decade before the publication of George Orwell's 1984, Modern Times featured a factory president barking orders and spying at everyone using a television. What is even more impressive is that the television did not enter the world until the 1950's. Now, while Modern Times is a silent film, people are heard speaking, but only from electronic devices showing Chaplin's opinion on the "talkie" revolution. However, since this would be the Little Tramp's final appearance, it was time to give more space for more gags.

Charlie Chaplin's short films concerned mostly simple gags repeated throughout its short course. When he made the large leap to feature-length films, he allowed the Tramp character to grow far from what he considered a comedy to be. He had said to Mack Sennett while leaving Keystone Films that all you need to make a comedy is "a policeman, a park and a pretty girl." Yes, Modern Times does have various policemen as well as a pretty girl, but it has moved far beyond the park. Chaplin's wonderful idea to lampoon Henry Ford's assembly line involved him moving the Tramp from the park into the factory. He also renamed him the "factory worker." People are so enthralled by the factory worker's actions due to how well constructed the story is. Chaplin's screenplay is so entertaining and thrilling. This is a story that makes one think and laugh at the same time. Only the Tramp could go through each job and fail miserably, but already be ready for a new adventure involving a new girl.

In Chaplin's previous works, the Tramp is mostly seen going after a girl and trying to win her heart. However, there is always an obstacle in the way, whether it be a big bully also fighting for her affection or blindness. In the end, he never does get the girl and walks off into the sunset. For Modern Times, the Tramp and the gamin are a team ready for new adventures. With Chaplin not trying to get together with her, it actually works out better for him. Paulette Goddard's performance is very nuanced and she is a girl the audience likes and was probably the smartest female character in Chaplin's film. The Tramp and the gamin's combined knowledge of hard-knocked life make them fight the oppression of the world. Even when they're down on their luck near the end of the film, the Tramp gives this important piece of information: "Buck up - Never say die. We'll get along!" The Tramp was always not only raising the viewer's spirits, but the characters in his films as well. The gamin was the last character he'd give his advice to and it was probably his best. Anyone down on their luck should have a positive outlook on life, because it won't get better if someone mopes all day long. For those with negative minds will lead a horrible and unhappy life. These are the ideas that people should carry with them everyday.

While one of Charlie Chaplin's main intention was to make people laugh, he also wanted to educate viewers about the problems facing people in America. Modern Times is a masterpiece where the Tramp fights depression, gets the girl and makes people have a jolly good time.

The famous cog scene from Charlie Chaplin's ultimate masterpiece Modern Times.
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