The film Modern Times done by Chaplin can be described as a satire of the machine age and has a theme of the dehumanizing effects of different aspects such as modernity, industrialization, urbanization, and even law enforcement. Modern Times was filmed in the 1930s during the era of the Great Depression.
The film’s main concerns were directed towards unemployment, poverty, and hunger; however, Chaplin was able to film this in a way where everyone would still be able to enjoy the film. Charlie Chaplin was able to portray the American ideals versus the reality of the 1930s in this silent film.Ideally, every person in the United States wanted to live a successful life, making lots of money. The Great Depression didn’t allow the population to make a sufficient amount of money to support them or their families. People that had jobs were lucky. Although America was in a state of poverty, they still had hoped to live their American Dream. Every person in America wants to live the stereotypical “American Dream”.
The American Dream can be defined in numerous ways but essentially it is an idea which suggests that all people can succeed through hard work, and that all people have the potential to live happy, successful lives.During the Great Depression, many people yearned for this American Dream but with the economy depressing, this reality didn’t allow Americans to live out this dream. In Modern Times, the Little Tramp and the gamin have just escaped the authorities and are sitting on the front lawn where they see a suburban couple parting; this suburban couple represents their American Dream. The Tramp enters into a dream sequence where both he and the gamin are living this couple’s life, their perfect life.He imagines their happy life together in their bright cheery home, where he plucks an orange from a nearby tree, grapes are right outside the kitchen door, and a cow is always available for them to retrieve fresh milk. The Tramp sinks back into reality and is inspired by this dream of his to find a home, even if he has to work for it. However, the rough reality is that during the 1930s there were hardly any jobs available to anyone at the time.
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The Great Depression made it difficult for any man or woman to find a decent paying job that would help them achieve their American Dream.The Tramp is thrown into jail after a mishap occurred the first day of his new job. Ten days later he is released where the gamin exclaims that she has found them a home. The Tramp seems happy to be hearing this news but the reality is that their new home is a run-down shack that he calls “Paradise”. This shack is completely opposite of what he was imagining in his American Dream. Everything in the cabin is falling apart, tables are breaking, chairs are sinking into the rotten floorboards, etc. Although the shack was seen as run-down and old, for Charlie’s character, this shack was his American Dream.
The American ideals and the 1930s realities worked against each other and at that time nothing could be done about it. Many people were not able to live their perfect and happy life. In the beginning of the film, Charles Chaplin was working in what seems to be a factory. Chaplin’s job is to tighten bolts on an endless series of steel plates. A salesman comes in and introduces a new machine that mechanically and silently feeds the factory workers. It’s supposed to be a machine that will shorten the hour long lunch break and improve worker productivity.However, the machine shorts out and starts going haywire, corn on the cob is spinning out of control, soup is spilled all over Charlie, and a dessert cake is shoved in his face.
I think Chaplin is trying to portray the message that machines are overrated. He is ridiculing the use of the machine and the machine age. Chaplin was trying to proclaim the frustrating struggle for men against the dehumanizing effects of the machine in the Industrial Age. It’s a possibility that machines being introduced in the Industrial Age can be replacing jobs for the men. A factory job like Charlie Chaplin’s could be easily replaced by a machine.If machines take over all the jobs that were meant for men and women, it would lead to fewer jobs available for our population. Charlie Chaplin sees this and pokes fun at the machines by introducing this great feeding machine which is supposed to enhance worker productivity, but because it backfires, slows down productivity.
Charlie Chaplin was put away in jail multiple times during the film. The first time he was arrested by the police because they mistakenly took him as the leader of a communist group. He seems to be living a happy and comfortable life in his jail cell since he is given his own private jail cell.The sheriff grants him his freedom but oddly enough, the Tramp asks to stay in jail a longer period of time since he was so content in jail. The Tramp leaves jail and soon after finds a job in a shipyard. However, he is unable to keep the job and is determined to go back to jail because outside of jail he is alone and hungry, at least inside jail he is fed for free. This goes to show how difficult life was during the Great Depression, food and jobs were hard to come by.
Chaplin shows his audience that jail was more preferable than the reality of the 1930s.Americans at that time had to fight for what little they had and this movie showed how much poverty and hunger affected our population. Unfortunately it seems as if in the 1930s it was better to be kept in jail rather than live your life in the real world where there was unemployment, poverty, and hunger amongst the millions of people in the United States. It’s odd because in our reality, it would be the complete opposite. Even though our economy is in a recession right now, nobody would want to stay in jail rather than live their life in freedom. Jail is a place for criminals and isn’t a place anyone would enjoy staying in.It just goes to show how bad the 1930s realities were compared to our current realities in 2010.
Modern Times is a film with a blend of comedy and the social dramas occurring during the 1930s. This movie provided a look into the world through the eyes of the people that were living the Great Depression. Different elements of the movie were able to portray the different difficulties of the lives in America during that era. There are many themes portrayed throughout this movie and there is a collision between the American ideals and the 1930s realities that Charlie Chaplin sets in his film.Some of the themes shown in this movie were poverty and unemployment, basically the difficulties of life during those years. Food and jobs were hard to come by and Chaplin shows us that jail was preferable to the hectic lifestyle everyone was living. Another theme throughout the movie was theme of the American Dream.
Charlie Chaplin consistently brings out the idea of the American Dream throughout the entirety of this movie. He introduces us to the American Dream when he himself daydreams of living in that house with the gamin, having fruits growing right outside his house, cows readily available for fresh milk, and steaks cooking for dinner.Charlie Chaplin then brings in the reality of his American Dream when the gamin finds them a shack to live in. This shack is Charlie’s “Paradise” and even though it’s a run-down shack, the American Dream is what you make it out to be, and to Charlie, it was his American Dream. Even though the American ideals and 1930s realities collided, Charlie Chaplin was able to produce a movie that still provided hope for fellow Americans. In the final scene, both Charlie and the gamin are seen optimistically walking arm in arm into the horizon.
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