Two very brief deleted scenes from Modern Times are here, and so is Chaplin's 1916 short "The Rink," which has some great roller-skating material. Carried over from previous DVD issues: an excellent 26-minute "Chaplin Today" piece featuring the Dardenne brothers, who speak insightfully about the social concerns of Modern Times, and a 10-minute Cuban documentary, "For the First Time" (1967), which depicts a peasant village witnessing their first movie--you can guess which film it is. --Robert Horton
If you are suffering from work woes, this film is a great one to watch. A co-worker at my last job recommended this film to me. We worked for one of those genome companies, some of us working in a production capacity, doing the same repetitive tasks ad nauseum. The, (in real life), multi-talented Chaplin in this film is a simple-minded factory worker who spends his day going through the same motions over and over again. He does get lunch breaks, but of course his day at work is not without its mishaps. Funny that a 70 year old film about modern times is still not dated.
This film was made in 1936 during the Great Depression, a time when money and bread were scarce, many people feeling the effects. The story line for this movie reveals some of these circumstances, but as Chaplin lives through them, as when he is forced to drink rum bursting out of casks shot by robbers of a department store, one of whom was a previous co-factoryworker, you can't help but laugh, and as the song says, 'just smile'.
After watching "Modern Times" however, I understand why he is one of the great performing talents of the 20th century. The film is nearly silent and mostly a series of comedic set-pieces, each one a virtuoso display of Chaplin's boundless talent.
What struck me most in watching Chaplin was both his ability to come up with a routine; strapped to an eating machine, skating blindfolded in a department store and amusing hardened diners as a dancing waiter and executing the concept with grace, humanity and humor. It is also a great testament to his acting that we never question Chaplin's "little tramp" an average, slightly ludicrous character who has amazing talent that deeply undercuts his character's supposed mediocrity.
My other surprise was how effective and nuanced the satire is in "Modern Times." Chaplin's little tramp is the perfect protagonist in a story about the perils of automation and technology. The little tramp is never defeated and always optimistic. He is like a cartoon character in that each travail is new and he doesn't carry with him the baggage from the previous experience. But he is also terribly human; frail, self absorbed, eccentric and resilient so that we the audience don't feel the oppressive weight that automation and technology has upon the working person. Without a strong, human protagonist, the attack against modern society could seem more global and distancing. Instead we witness the pain from an individual perspective that connects to our own lives.
A true classic and a funny look at the industrial revolution, any one who has worked for a tyranical supervisor will enjoy this movie.