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
A "Chaplin Today" feature includes the penetrating observations of Belgian directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Whimsically, there's a karaoke version of Chaplin's nonsense song (the first time his voice is heard in his films), plus a clip of Liberace crooning the famous Chaplin composition "Smile." A curious 10-minute Cuban film from 1967 records the reactions of villagers seeing a movie for the first time (it's Modern Times
), and along with photo and poster galleries, the extras are somewhat padded out with two vintage promotional films about the machine age. --Robert Horton
Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin's last outing as the Little Tramp, puts the iconic character to work as a giddily inept factory employee who becomes smitten with a gorgeous gamine (Paulette Goddard). With its barrage of unforgettable gags and sly commentary on class struggle during the Great Depression, Modern Times - though made almost a decade into the talkie era and containing moments of sound (even song!) - is a timeless showcase of Chaplin's untouchable genius as a director of silent comedy.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
* New audio commentary by Chaplin biographer David Robinson
* Two new visual essays, by Chaplin historians John Bengtson and Jeffrey Vance
* New program on the film's visual and sound effects, with experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt
* Interview from 1992 with Modern Times music arranger David Raksin
* Chaplin Today: "Modern Times" (2004), a half-hour program with filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
* Two segments removed from the film
* Three theatrical trailers
* All at Sea (1933), a home movie by Alistair Cooke featuring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, and Cooke, plus a new score by Donald Sosin and a new interview with Cooke's daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge
* The Rink (1916), a Chaplin two-reeler highlighting his skill on wheels
* For the First Time (1967), a Cuban documentary short about a projectionist who shows Modern Times to first-time moviegoers
* And More!
* PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Saul Austerlitz and a piece by film scholar Lisa Stein that includes excerpts from Chaplin's writing about his travels in 1931 and 1932
Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin's last outing as the Little Tramp, puts the iconic character to work as a giddily inept factory employee who becomes smitten with a gorgeous gamine (Paulette Goddard). With its barrage of unforgettable gags and sly commentary on class struggle during the Great Depression, Modern Times-though made almost a decade into the talkie era and containing moments of sound (even song!)-is a timeless showcase of Chaplin's untouchable genius as a director of silent comedy.