Modern Times

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Modern Times

'Modern Times', starring, written and directed by Charlie Chaplin examines cultural and social elements present in the 1930s. In the film a focal point of this examination and critique is Western materialism. The feeding machine scene exemplifies this, with allusions and metaphors that critique the utopian "American Dream", consumerism, and the destruction of value in the pursuit of quantity.

The topic of food plays a significant role in Chaplin's film as it represents an important factor of the domestic bliss that is the "American Dream". In the feeding machine scene, the notion of food and eating as being an enjoyable act is completely ruled out when Chaplin is force-fed by a machine whilst he works. Due to the aggressive nature of the machine's malfunction, it's almost as if Chaplin is being attacked, the complete opposite to the enjoyment one would usually experience when having a meal. The feeding machine is a prime example of the modern times which were detaching people from their initial pleasures. Food is commonly eaten whilst sitting, in an almost formal setting although with the use of the machine, Chaplin comments on the urgency of his society and how homely values are losing there resonance.

Chaplin's subversion of these conventions achieves a critique of traditional understandings of materials, ownership and "pleasure". The fact that these conventions relate to eating, a basic and essential human function works to distance humanity and nature from the world that surrounds Chaplin in the 1930s, and the utopian "American Dream", as such, is shown to be quite dystopic in reality. How Chaplin treats food in this instance is reinforced by the dysfunction of the machine that feeds Chaplin, furthermore, is a symbol for the over reliance not only on technology, but also on governmental and authority's processes, a metaphorical "machine".

When the Gamine steals bananas (deemed a delicacy) and shares them around with those around...
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