Modern Times – Reflection
The movie Modern Times by Charles Chaplin is a critique of the social structure of his time. This prominent critic is one of Chaplin most famous work and can be well adapted to current days. Many of the critics presented in Chaplin work can be linked to existentialist themes and in more deep form to Nietzsche philosophical arguments. This paper establish such connection in a macro level, taking in account the possible meaning of the entire movie and in a micro level by establishing the connection of existential themes with specific passages of the movie. Nietzsche will be the central point of comparison but when appropriate other existential themes will be presented, in order to reinforce understanding. The movie as whole presented in certain extent a narrative of life. Although, the timeframe presented is limited to a moment of Chaplin life, it is possible to indicate that author tried to present an examination of life itself. Life is presented as tragic and dependent of chance. What happens to Chaplin throughout the movie seems to bring this into play. He seems to have encounter a “good life” by having a job, then by being in the jail, by becoming an artist and so on. However, it is not by his choice, indeed everything seems to happen due the randomness of life. By chance he becomes something and by chance what he had become is destroyed. This characteristic of life is commonly used by Nietzsche. The philosopher presents life as random and perhaps purposeless. This way of think differs from other philosophers such as Plato who seek to identify the ways of a noble life, which is beyond humanity and emanates from Eternity. Nietzsche would question why to live why to give up living, when life is so random and the destruction of what one becomes is a blink of eyes. Indeed the movie brings something similar to Greek tragedies. Niesztche examined Greek tragedies and to him they are a good representation of life. Chaplin a good working man, became a “criminal” by chance and by chance became a noble man, when stopped the other criminals from escaping the jail. The noble man, by destiny or by the nature of the system, became a criminal again and once again by chance a jail breaker. The once, noble man, who stop jail break is now by chance escaping from jail. This narrative is very similar to a tragedy. By presenting life this way it is arguable that Chaplin was affirming the nature of life. The characteristics of movie can be substantially connected to Nietzsche’s philosophy. Isn’t life random? Why would so, be worth to live a life privation of our human nature? If there is nothing beyond this world of become, if life lack an eternal propose, if it is just an element of randomness, what more would a man want to do beyond enjoying his chance of living? Nietzsche argued that the most moral way of living is by affirming life and reinforcing the reality of life. We can now say that Chaplin presented the reality of life through his movie, which is the first connection of the author magnum opus and Nietzsche understanding of life. At this point we can start to examine the central critic presented in the movie. It is fair to argue that the major critic presented in the movie is status quo of society of his time and the suppression of human affirmation. From the movie is possible to say that society structures linked to mass production, force man to suppress their own personalities. The first scene of the movie makes an analogy which compares man of the time to a herd of sheep. This analogy presents the idea of one individual personality being suppressed by the masses. All man in scene seems to be using the clothes and moving to the same direction. From the scene a central question arises is the design of society not leading to the affirmation of their individuality but indeed to the creation a herd of men? Nietzsche affirmed that the way how society was shaped and society itself were not leading man to the...
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