Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Modern Times is a 1936 film by Charlie Chaplin that has his famous Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression. Conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie stars Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman , Stanley Sandford and Chester Conklin . It was written and directed by Chaplin.
The movie follows the Tramp and a young woman, which he rescues from the authorities who want to put her in an orphanage, as they try to overcome their impoverished street life. The Tramp attempts multiple jobs but quickly, and comically, loses them.
The factory where the Tramp works has a futuristic look and may have been influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis. People who saw both Modern Times and the the earlier À nous la liberté usually (at least according to IMDB comments) think that Chaplin got inspiration from it, but Chaplin denied it.
Modern Times was one of the last silent films made, although it does include sound effects, music, singers, and voices coming from radios and loudspeakers. Near the end of the film the Little Tramp's voice is heard for the first time as he ad-libs pseudo-French and Italian gibberish to the tune of Léo Daniderff's popular song, Je cherche après Titine.
Most of the film was shot at "silent speed", 18 frames per second, which when projected at "sound speed", 24 frames per second, made the slapstick action appear even more frenetic. Chaplin created the effect deliberately.
In one memorable scene, Chaplin's character looks for a bolt to tighten while he is being pulled through the gears of an enormous machine. Another has the Tramp picking up a warning flag that fell off the back of a truck and waving it to attract the driver's attention. Meanwhile, he fails to notice that a parade of labor protesters have come up behind him. As the police break up the protest they arrest the flag-waving Tramp as the protest leader.
The music score was composed by Chaplin himself. The romance theme was later given words and became better known as the song "Smile" ("Smile though your heart is breaking...") and covered by such artists as Judy Garland, Liberace and Nat King Cole.
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