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Modern Times – Charlie Chaplin

October 14, 2014

Charlie Chaplin began shooting his movie Modern Times in 1935.

By the means of a comic movie, Chaplin bitterly criticizes the beginning of industrialisation in America. Charlot, a worker victim of the dictatorship created by the machines, will have to face misery, jail, to eventually, achieve his quest for happiness.

The principal characters are played by Chaplin himself, as Charlot, and Paulette Gaudard, a French actress and his third wife, as the Gamin.

Modern Times tells the story of Charlot, a worker in a production line, that has to submit to the Taylorist method.

Because of a nervous breakdown due to the assembly-line work, Charlot is sent to the hospital. When he gets out of it, he is unemployed.

Walking aimlessly in the town, and picking up a flag on the floor, he is arrested, mistaken for the leader of a strikers’ demonstration, and sent to prison.

In jail, he accidentaly swallows some drugs, that the guy next to him had put in the salt cellar in order not to get caught.

He prevents a few prisoners from evading, which first allows him to have a nice cell in jail, than permits him to be free.

Charlot is rapidly aware that his life was way better in jail. Even if the prison’s headmaster helps him find a new job, he is fired because of his clumsiness.

He then meets the Gamine, a poor orphan that walks the streets searching for food. For her, he finds a job as a night watchman. Together, they aspire to freedom and happiness, and part of that American dream is the love story between  the tramp and the gamine.

Charlot is then unjustly arrested as an accomplice of a burglary in the commercial center that he is working in.

When he gets out of prison, the Gamine finds him a job with her as a singer-waiter in a cabaret show.

But when the juvenile delinquency division breaks in the show to arrest the Gamine, they are forced to run away.

The movie ends with a happy final note, as we see the two lovers walking hand in hand with the hope for a brighter future.

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Modern Times should have been Chaplin’s first talking movie, but in the end it was only a musical movie with different sort of sound effects.

This movie gives hope to the viewers as this historical period was not a happy one. Chaplin is one of the masters of the movie industry who managed to denounce terrible events or social crisis in a humorous way, thus making us aware of a situation while maintaining some hope in human nature.

Mélanie

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