Critical Analysis Of Modern Times

1956 Words8 Pages
Modern times (1936): A Critical Analysis

Modern Times (1936) is a comedy written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film is of both slapstick and satire, and is a socio-economic commentary on American society during the thirties, a period of rapid industrialization and the onset of the Great Depression. In the film, he plays a character known as the Tramp: a happy-go-lucky underdog, who does not quite understand society, and yet remains both cheerful and hopeful despite facing innumerable difficulties. In Modern Times, he potrays the reign of technology and society where humanity is forced to adjust to the machines and institutions of modern society, particularly with advent of the ‘American Dream’ and the ‘pursuit of happiness’. This film
…show more content…
The symbolism is clear: People live under the reign of mechanically measured time- the dictatorship of the clock. ‘Time is money’ afterall. The importance of the capitalist’s control on labourer’s time is shown in Marx’s Das Kapital. The most important aim of the capitalist is through the use and control of labour power. The labourer works for subsistence— that is, to earn enough money to buy the things he needs to live which is how much the capitalist pays him, and so any overtime is surplus accumulated for the capitalist. Therefore, lesser the capitalist can pay the labourer, the longer and more efficiently he can force the labourer to work, and the degree to which he can maximize the amount of time he works in the factory by other means (i.e., by shortening or scrapping breaks), is favourable to the capitalist. In short, the amount of profit earned by the capitalist is dependent upon his control over the labourers’ time. This emphasis on time, more specifically efficiency is later highlighted in George Ritzer’s The McDonaldisation of Society (1993), where all organisations increasingly strive towards minimizing time; McDonald's offers the quickest (arguably, the best) way to get from being hungry to being satisfied where the efficiency of a fast-food meal, perhaps even without leaving their cars by using the drive-through lane, often proves impossible to resist. The fast-food model…show more content…
Workers who cannot talk to each, who are strictly supervised by a Big Brother management, and who have no time to think and communicate with each other owing to the hostile work environment tend to become solitary beings even though this modern work requires a high degree of social cooperation, and even though these individuals move together as a crowd. This comes with the modernity associated with urban spaces: there is much more alienation and loneliness in cities, where people live together in great numbers than in smaller societies. At the beginning of the film a written note projected on the screen announces the film as "A story of industry, of individual enterprise, of humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness." This note seems cyptic, but what I think it seems to say is that the film is about the nature of modern industry, about the endeavors of an individual in a mass society, and about the life of most people in modern times. The protagonist is seen as a helpless being completely controlled by a world of machines who is constantly pushed around by bureaucracies, victimised by an economy over which he does not have the slightest control and all in all, trying to seek some happiness in this confusing world, much like everybody

More about Critical Analysis Of Modern Times

Open Document