10 September 2000 | Chris-268
Hilarious comedy with a serious message
"Modern Times" is in my top 5 films, and #2 in my list of favorite comedies. Charles Chaplin is arguably the most talented human being, nevermind film maker, that ever lived. I first saw this treasure about 8 years ago, and I watched it again recently to make sure that it really WAS funny, and that I had not given it too much praise because it was simply a Chaplin film. "Modern Times" passed my test with flying colors. I laughed hysterically from start to finish. Each and every scene is innovative, well thought out, and executed with the genius that only Chaplin possessed. Among my favorite scenes are the "automatic worker-feeding machine"; the jail scene in the cafeteria when The Tramp accidentally sprinkles cocaine on his food, thinking it is salt; and the roller skating scene in the department store. No special effects or computer animation, just pure, simple, genius.
The storyline in "Modern Times" is purposefully naive, a trick Chaplin used time and again to bring a profound humanitarian quality to his films. Watching this film is comparable to watching a Warner Bros. cartoon, which coming from me is a sincere compliment. The level of physical comedy in "Modern Times" is on par with the masterful short films of Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and others.
Finally, as was the case with most of his later films, "Modern Times" is a serious social commentary. Its message is as relevant today as it was more than sixty years ago when it was released. In fact, it is arguably even more relevant today, and unless the world changes drastically in the future it will continue to be. "Modern Times" is essentially the story of a simple but extremely kind man caught in the traps of industrialized society. The opening scene, which compares a crowd of workers boarding the subway to a flock of sheep, is Chaplin's warning against standardization, mechanization, and other facets of life which rob men and women of their individuality. Chaplin always tried to speak for the downtrodden, because despite his enormous success and wealth, he never forgot where he came from. In the end, "Modern Times" is a reminder that no matter how bad things are, you can still smile. Charles Chaplin has made more people smile than almost any other, and his legacy of love and laughter lives on in his films. Its up to us to keep his legacy alive.