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Modern Times (Criterion Collection)

Charles Chaplin , Paulette Goddard , Charles Chaplin    Unrated   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Modern Times (Criterion Collection) + The Great Dictator (Criterion Collection) + Gold Rush (The Criterion Collection)
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Charlie Chaplin is in glorious form in this legendary satire of the mechanized world. As a factory worker driven bonkers by the soulless momentum of work, Chaplin executes a series of slapstick routines around machines, including a memorable encounter with an automatic feeding apparatus. The pantomime is triumphant, but Chaplin also draws a lively relationship between the Tramp and a street gamine. She's played by Paulette Goddard, then Chaplin's wife and probably his best leading lady (here and in The Great Dictator). The film's theme gave the increasingly ambitious writer-director a chance to speak out about social issues, as well as indulging in the bittersweet quality of pathos that critics were already calling "Chaplinesque." In 1936, Chaplin was still holding out against spoken dialogue in films, but he did use a synchronized soundtrack of sound effects and his own music, a score that includes one of his most famous melodies, "Smile." And late in the film, Chaplin actually does speak--albeit in a garbled gibberish song, a rebuke to modern times in talking pictures. --Robert Horton

Special Features

For this edition of a comedy masterpiece, Criterion has assembled a delightful collection of supporting materials--some new, some old, all lovely. The new stuff begins with a feature-length commentary by Chaplin biographer David Robinson, who knows as much about Charlie Chaplin as any person alive. Also new are visual essays on the film's production; its special visual and sound effects (much more interesting than you might expect); and John Bengston's nifty tour of various Los Angeles locations used in the film, including the stretch of road seen in the final fade-out. Even more spectacular is an 18-minute 8 mm short called "All at Sea," created by future author and Masterpiece Theatre host Alistair Cooke--essentially a home movie of a trip Cooke took with Chaplin and Paulette Goddard aboard Chaplin's yacht, during a weekend cruise to Catalina Island in 1933. (A new interview with Cooke's daughter provides the fascinating tale behind the long-lost little film, including the fact that Chaplin directed some of the rapturous shots of Goddard.) Also seen in an interview (from 1993) is composer David Raksin, who assisted Chaplin in the devising of the score of Modern Times.

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

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Where's the Boss?' June 30 2004
Caught between the cog wheels???
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'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the golden gems of Charlot June 8 2004
Modern times was a smart comedy in the previous years to WW2.
Charlot made raptures images in several sequences.
Our unlucky or disadapted little man , definitively wasn{t made for working with the industrial process. This kinetic introduction in the middle of the complex mecahnism of machine systems is a issue to develop unforgettable laughable situations. The sense of alienation in front the no ending belt , causes in him an insane loss of the reality. And the machine who feeds you without waste of time for your employers is a classic.
Obviously Charlot inspired himself in Metropolis, the bitter nightmare of Fritz Lang from 1927. (Watch for instance for the employer who works around the machine control) .
So our beloved anti hero goes out from this the factory to the hospital and over and over he tries to get a job but he fails , by one reason or another.
In the middle of the film will appear a deep inspiration. The eternally beauty Paulette Godard represents exactly that weird mix teenager-woman who will work out as link for him later.
He is a guy with good feelings. He acts always as humanity benefactor but the long arm of the fate runs behind him and the results are not succesful.
The sequences in the dinner hall with the chicken that never comes to the impatient client is a masterpiece. Literally it's a funny coreography dance in the purest sense of the word.
Smile ; no matter what's wrong with you. We'll keep ahead , overcoming all the possible obstacles.
A remarkable film and one of the landmark pictures of this timeless genius.
Haven't you seen it? Make yourself a favour and buy it as a gift for you or your wife or fiancee or kids. This film will never dissapoint you , at least in the next three hundred years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Chaplin March 11 2004
Until I saw "Modern Times" I only knew Chaplin from clips and impressions rather than from his films. I didn't see the talent. I understood that he parlayed his popularity into power and control over his work and that he made a huge contribution to American cinema. But I found Chaplin the performer, cloying and sentimental.
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.
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By D. Mok
It helps that Modern Times is one of Chaplin's best films, period, running a close second behind City Lights (I hope that's next on the re-release list). And happily, unlike The Gold Rush, which was ruined by awful sound choices, the Modern Times DVD offers a clean transfer of the film with all the beloved original elements intact as far as I could see and hear, plus a host of extras.
The film itself is the most briskly paced of Chaplin's feature-length films. And his writing is sharp, unhindered by the sermonizing which permeates his last works. The dilemma facing our Little Tramp this time is something all of us can relate to: For the first time, we see him thinking ahead, wanting to have a future, to form a family, and working towards that end. Chaplin's physical-comedy skills are at their peak: Witness the extended takes of the rollerskate scene, and the factory assembly line. Even if the 18fps (sometimes 16fps) film speed made everything look faster than it really was, it's still impressive physical co-ordination requiring flawless execution, since Chaplin rarely edits using coverage.
In Modern Times we see one of the first truly well-rounded Chaplin heroines. The radiant Paulette Goddard was Chaplin's best leading lady, her high spirits and lively presence being a much better foil for Chaplin than the starry-eyed icons of perfection that were Georgia Hale, Edna Purviance, or Virginia Cherrill. She just has more star quality and brings a quirkier, more animated personality to Chaplin's films, balancing them nicely.
And the gags -- some of the best in the Chaplin canon.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am very pleased of my purchase. thank you. G.D.
Published 2 months ago by Ginette Descoteaux
5.0 out of 5 stars 1936 looks like 1996
Those Criterion people really know what they're doing. The box art is beautiful, and so is the booklet and the menu screen. Read more
Published on July 28 2011 by CharlieReviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Silent, but powerful
In spite of the lack of speech in Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times", the socialist message that Chaplin portrays is difficult to ignore. Read more
Published on May 17 2007 by E. Lalonde
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh & Tears as the Tramp struggles...
Modern Times is the last silent film that Charles Chaplin created in a time when talking was common on the silver screen. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2004 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful restoration
I love old movies and own several Criterion Collection DVDs from the 1930s, but in terms of picture quality, none compare with the new Chaplin Collection restoration of... Read more
Published on July 25 2003 by Eugene Koh
5.0 out of 5 stars a great movie for all 77 years and counting its been out!
This Feature is Chaplins last silent movie. Even though the title is Modern Times chaplin wasn't so easy on letting silent movies go. Read more
Published on July 23 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars a great movie for all 77 years and counting its been out!
This Feature is Chaplins last silent movie. Even though the title is Modern Times chaplin wasn't so easy on letting silent movies go. Read more
Published on July 23 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin's best
Modern Times (1936) is quite possibly the defining picture of Charlie Chaplin's career. I've been renting Chaplin movies lately and Modern Times is by far the best one that I've... Read more
Published on July 16 2003 by Joe Sherry
4.0 out of 5 stars my first Chaplin film
I take a media arts course at my school and I recently watched this movie in it. I love the guy and the use of the camera was so great for the time period. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2002 by Amazifier
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