Film Club Review – Modern Times
I will not claim that I am a Chaplin expert as I have only seen three of his films, the other two being City Lights and The Gold Rush. But compared to those other two, Modern Times falls slightly short. It is very strong elements but also some weaker aspects. The main problem though is that its simply not as charming as Chaplin’s other efforts.
Modern Times starts out a a really great satire of industrialism. This is most noticeable when the owners of a metal works factory try to increase productivity by testing a production line which helps workers eat as they work. There is also that great, iconic sequence where the Tramp gets pulled into the cogs of the machine.
However, this satire begins to lose its bite in the middle. And as I mentioned previously, it just doesn’t have the charm that City Lights for example has. There is also something about the time that this movie was made which makes it feel out of place even know. There is a mix between old and new film-making here which can be seen with the mixing of sound effects and even some dialogue thrown into what is supposed to be a silent film. There’s also the modern look of the heroine compared to the more old-timely look of previous Chaplin film actresses. Now some will argue that these contradictions fit the title and satirical theme of the movie, but I just found them oddly jarring.
Even though it may not have all the Chaplin charm, there are still some really great moments and really good physical comedy. However the comedy here is more one-off moments, like diving into the shallow pool, then sequences, like the Gold Rush cabin scene. They still had me laughing though.