Charlie Chaplin's Film, Modern Times

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Modern times

How is Chaplin’s film and allegory

Charlie Chaplin’s film “Modern Times” is an allegory satirizing the society of the 1930’s. In his film he uses many examples of symbolism, using one object or event to express a hidden meaning. The movie uses these hidden meanings to show that during this time industry was taking over humanity.

The opening of the movie is a shot of a large clock expanding the entire screen. The symbolism is obvious. The people of the world are controlled by mechanically measured time, the tyranny of the clock. Another use of symbolism is used as crowd of people flood out of a subway station. This idea is accentuated by the shot of sheep running and out of all of these animals there is one black sheep. This is alluding to the fact that one character will go against the grain.

When one watches the scene of “the Tramp” working endlessly in a machine run factory the message is clear. People in this age have become part of the machinery. This is also shown when the automated food tray is tested on Chaplin’s character. The tray locks Charlie in and feeds him as he works. In the end it malfunctions to a humorous note but the point is that businesses are dehumanizing their workers.

During the 1930’s the depression was hitting hard. Chaplin portrays just how bad it was in his jail scene. After stopping some escaping inmates at the jail he is imprisoned at the guards of the jail make him comfortable. In a newspaper one can see the headlines of “unemployment” striking the country. When Charlie is about to be released he asks if he could stay in jail rather than go out into the world.

Chaplin’s movie is full of satire and symbolism expressing how the world is being run inside and out by machines. The last scene of the movie is Chaplin and his female companion are seen walking off into the distance in search of their own niche in the extremely industrialized society that they live in.
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