Charlie Chaplin’s Derby Cinema
Modern Times cuts Chaplin’s signature asymmetry with his derby of mechanical modernism. By wearing his hat at all angles, his tilt emphasizes the straightness of the suspenders. Between the line of force and his mantle, exhaled air tightens the knot of the balloon above his ankle. His shoes were too big, making his feet point outward. His shoes as well, trying to balance himself. Apart from carrying a bamboo stick, he seems to have passed the sweet life. His good manners are married to a sense of severance pay between outsiders by wearing tattered clothes.
However, his silhouette becomes uneven in his surroundings, even though the audience is immediately familiar with his personification. Charlie Chaplin is an iconographic figure but more than a comedy pantomime or director. He provoked a gentle comedic thought. Moreover, his depiction is astute in the 1930s, including the Modern Times. He does not just explore striving for gratification. However, no director is more responsible for cinema as entertainment or art through the industrial world. Little Tramp became an iconic figure in culture and cinema worldwide. He essentially translates traditional theater forms to show that the medium is developing.
A “Comedy” Film
In addition to mechanical modernism, Chaplin featured Modern Times as a comedy film in 1936. His character Tramp already had immense popularity. He found the tramp character generous. He was well wise for two decades, embodying the suffering of the dispossessed people. The film marks Chaplin’s appearance as well as the Tramp. It is about mass unemployment coinciding with the industrial mechanism. Chaplin was always very concerned about economic and social issues at the time. He also declared the 1930s as the year of unemployment.
Machines improve human welfare, not cause tragedy and increase unemployment. Chaplin opened the film with cardboard on top. The sentence tells a story about the industry, individual initiative, and humanity’s crusade to pursue happiness. Besides, the director juxtaposes workers and sheep emerging from the subway. Enter Chaplin into a scene, a laborer working in a factory in the chain. His job was no more tightening the two made on the part of the unknown object, moving past him without interruption.
Incidents and misfortune confronted Chaplin, crippling the chain and causing his rhythm to be lost. However, guinea pigs test the new machine in automatically feeding the workers. The machines are useful without interrupting the workers’ work at lunch. In its still development stage, the machine is truly an instrument of torture. When he returned to work, Chaplin went mad and was trapped in the machine. Funnily, he sprinkled the oil among the workers. After the hospital treats him, he picks up the red flag that fell from the truck.
Protesters regard him as both a follower and a leader. Arrested by the police, he becomes a model prisoner, outwitting and running for help. On his release, a girl worked as a singer in a restaurant. When he loses the text, he improvises the song with nonsense. People cannot understand him, to be victorious, but the police enter the facility to stop him and the child. The pair manage to escape, hand in hand, for another adventure. Chaplin is a specialist in mute mime. Apart from refusing to dialogue, he is still preparing and recording the test.
Tramp and the Clash
Modern Times became Chaplin’s self-conscious farewell speech favoring mechanical film modernism. He has developed and pioneered silent film into one of the great art forms of the twentieth century. Despite being technically a sound film, tiny of the film’s soundtrack contains dialogue. The main soundtrack is Chaplin’s sound effects and musical score. Apart from the performance of the song by Tramp in nonsense language, such an extraordinary performance marks the only time Tramp has spoken. However, Chaplin refused to talk about the pictures. It is because the audience understands the silence of the Tramp around the world.
Cleverly, he states that speaking in one language is meaningless in another. At the same time, the film allows Tramp to speak in a way that people understand universally. In 1931, Chaplin saw firsthand the economic consequences. He also saw the Great Depression and met many influential thinkers. He met Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein. His journey provides the context of the film. Upon his return to America, he was impressed with the idea of the film. After learning about healthy young men being lured off the farm to work in factories, Chaplin reflected on the development of the film into a comedy. It covers difficult topics such as tyranny, poverty, riots, and strikes.
If the film’s oddity with Chaplin is met with vehement rejection, Chaplin’s concern is with human wants and basic needs. A couple of Tramp and Gamin are like children. Both are free from responsibilities, while adults are still automatons without logic. The couple’s bond is not a romantic but a deep bond of togetherness. He makes Gamin a companion at the end of the film. For the last and first time in Tramp’s cinema life, he as well is not alone. The film’s production resisted an all-out commitment to sound. Chaplin was more convinced of his success in silent theatrics than silent-era filmmaking.
He is also committed to the idea that music provides a background effect. Meanwhile, pantomime provides emotion. In essence, Chaplin does not need dialogue and will slow down the process. As a result, it will hinder the comedy effect of the film. He estimates the sound image will last no more than a year. However, when the sound image does not disappear, he insists that it will not be in his photo if the talk lasts too long. By the time production on the film began in 1933, Chaplin had written the script complete with dialogue.
Paulette Goddard had been Chaplin’s real-life companion since July 1932. In 1934, he put her under contract. He also casts her as Gamin as soon as he mentions the character in the film. Regardless of which, Chaplin began pre-production of mechanical modernism on Modern Times in March 1933. He began filming in October 1934 at his Hollywood studios and nearby locations. J. Russell Spencer and Charles D. Hall oversaw the construction of the impressive factory interior at Chaplin Studios (The Jim Henson Company). René Clair’s À Nous la Liberté and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis inspired the film, especially on the set of the factory. In addition, Chaplin also initially planned a sad but sentimental ending for the film.
Despite Tramp being in the hospital, Gamin became a nun and separated from him for good. The ending of the story leaves a more cheerful ending. Hand in hand, the couple bravely walked the country road towards the horizon. By the time the film came out, other directors were making pictures speak for nearly a decade. On the other hand, until the end of his life, Chaplin refused dialogue. He knows his understanding and universal comedy on silent pantomime is starting to weaken until preparing dialogue. Finally, Chaplin thought it was better. Like in City Lights, he only uses sound effects and music. Audiences can only hear human voice filters through technological devices.
As Chaplin had done for City Lights, he composed the music score himself. He also gave conductors and compilers a harder time than usual. As a result, the famous Hollywood musician Alfred Newman walked out of the film. On the other hand, the film has fallen victim to strange accusations of plagiarism. Tobis Film, a French-German company, claims Chaplin has stolen ideas from other classic films about the 20th-century industry. Even though the case is weak, Clair and Chaplin’s fans are very embarrassed by it. However, Tobis Film persisted. They even renewed the claim in May 1947.
After WWII, Chaplin Studio finally agreed to a simple payment. With the sole reason of eliminating the distraction, Chaplin and his attorney remained convinced. The company’s determination to dominate Germany was revenge for The Great Dictator‘s anti-Nazi sentiments. Fortunately, Tobis Film failed its initial request to discontinue Chaplin’s films permanently for posterity. On the other hand, the film survives as a commentary on human survival in industrial conditions. It also discusses how social and economic society in the 20th century remains relevant even into the 21st century.
A Farewell Letter
By and large, Chaplin recognized Modern Times as a mechanical modernism and farewell speech between the director himself, Tramp, and the fans. Intentionally, he includes lots of gag sequences, love for the characters, and homage to the tradition of visual comedy. However, the backbone uniting the story is the journey of survival. When the Tramp walks down the road to the unknown, it is more than just a rehash of the typical cover. On the other hand, Tramp is not alone.
The film might mean more in the modern era than at the time since its first release. The theme of twentieth-century films is far-sighted, striving to avoid alienation. By preserving humanity in the modern and mechanical world, it reflects the problems of the twenty-first century. Tramp’s hard work with Modern Times should give everyone strength and comfort. Through its universal themes and comic inventiveness, the film remains one of Chaplin’s enduring masterpieces. The Tramp finale of a timeless character award and the silent film era.