Modern Times is a 1936 American silent comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a commentary on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression — conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization (Wikipedia).
Modern Times, American silent film, released in 1936, that starred Charlie Chaplin as a man at odds with modern technology. It is regarded as the last great silent film.
The film, which was set during the Great Depression, centres on a luckless factory worker (played by Chaplin) who finds himself so unnerved by trying to cope with the modern equipment he must operate that he suffers a breakdown. After being institutionalized, he is freed, only to be mistaken for a communist agitator. He is arrested but released after preventing a jailbreak. He subsequently falls in love with a young girl (Paulette Goddard) whom he met when she was running from the police after stealing a loaf of bread. The factory worker and the girl have many adventures together as they evade the police and struggle for a better life. Eventually they escape for the open road.
Chaplin had not been seen on a theatre screen for five years when Modern Times premiered to great acclaim in 1936. Still stubbornly resisting work in “talkies,” he stood alone in his insistence upon preserving the silent film. As he did with City Lights (1931), Chaplin conceded to recording a music and sound effects track, but there would be no dialogue heard on-screen. (A reactionary in terms of filmmaking techniques, he once predicted sound films would be passé by 1932.)
Modern Times is regarded as one of Chaplin’s most lighthearted films. There is certainly plenty of social criticism (the film highlights the dehumanizing impact of technology), but he plays the story mostly for laughs. The sight gag of Chaplin haplessly trying to keep pace with the assembly line in the factory is regarded as a classic comedy sequence. (Source: Britannica)
Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance has written of the reception and legacy of this classic comedy,
Modern Times is perhaps more meaningful now than at any time since its first release. The twentieth-century theme of the film, farsighted for its time—the struggle to eschew alienation and preserve humanity in a modern, mechanized world—profoundly reflects issues facing the twenty-first century. The Tramp's travails in Modern Times and the comedic mayhem that ensues should provide strength and comfort to all who feel like helpless cogs in a world beyond control. Through its universal themes and comic inventiveness, Modern Times remains one of Chaplin's greatest and most enduring works. Perhaps more important, it is the Tramp's finale, a tribute to Chaplin's most beloved character and the silent-film era he commanded for a generation. (Click here to read full article)
The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satiricalcomedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by, and starring British comedian Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other films. Having been the only Hollywood filmmaker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, Chaplin made this his first true sound film.
Chaplin's film advanced a stirring condemnation of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, fascism, antisemitism, and the Nazis. At the time of its first release, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany and neutral during what were the early days of World War II. Chaplin plays both leading roles: a ruthless fascist dictator and a persecuted Jewish barber.
The Great Dictatorwas popular with audiences, becoming Chaplin's most commercially successful film.Modern critics have praised it as a historically significant film, one of the greatest comedy films ever made and an important work ofsatire. (Wikipedia).
Chaplin portrayed a Jewish barber who is mistaken for a tyrannical dictator. He plays up the charade and ultimately gives a speech in which he calls for peace and compassion. Chaplin, in a dual role, also played the fascist dictator, modeled after Hitler.
The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first feature film with full sound. When the movie was released in 1940, the United States was still not officially at war with Nazi Germany. The names of the characters mock the fascist leaders of the day, including “Adenoid Hynkel,” standing in for Hitler, and ministers “Garbitsch” and “Herring,” who were modeled on Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring, respectively. “Benzino Napaloni,” dictator of the neighbouring country of “Bacteria,” was a satirical portrayal of Italy’s Benito Mussolini. One of the film’s most-celebrated scenes features Hynkel dancing with a balloon of the world to the music of Richard Wagner. Chaplin later said he would never have been able to make the film had the true extent of the Nazis’ crimes been widely known (Britannica).
"But Chaplin wouldn't be dissuaded. He knew that The Great Dictator was worth making, and, sure enough, it was a box office smash: 1941's second biggest hit in the US. On the 80th anniversary of the film's release, Chaplin's prescience is even more startling. The Great Dictator is a masterpiece that isn't just a delightful comedy and a grim agitprop drama, but a spookily accurate insight into Hitler's psychology. "He was a visionary," said Costa-Gavras, the Greek-French doyen of political cinema, in a making-of documentary. "He saw the future while the leaders of the world couldn't see it, and remained on Hitler's side." - Read more - Nicholas Barber - BBC Culture
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