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4.9 out of 5 stars35
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on July 28, 2011
Those Criterion people really know what they're doing. The box art is beautiful, and so is the booklet and the menu screen. Plenty of special features - basically what was in the 2-disc DVD put out by MK2 - that are all worthwhile, and then there is the movie itself. Chaplin's Modern Times is a classic, which is a cliche term but the only one that fits. It is still hilarious, still beautiful, still clever, and still relevant. The Hi-Def transfer that was done for the blu-ray is a piece of art in itself. The images are as crisp as any black-and-white footage shot a decade ago, but this was filmed 7 decades ago. Amazing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 18, 2016
Criterion films are expensive and hence re-wachability is one of the criteria I use when buying them. This is a film that I can watch over and over again (I have almost watched it 10 times). Criterion Hi-Def transfer is excellent and images are crisp. For me all Charlie Chaplin films restored by Criterion are invaluable. As always criterion box and artwork is amazing and it comes with plenty of special features and very nice booklet.

It's an incredibly funny, clever and beautiful film and still relevant. The film covers almost every aspect is human life such as humanity, love, inhumanity, tragedy, laughter, greed nicely intervened in very nice story while successfully balancing that with very cute love story between the tramp and the orphan girl. This is a comedic masterpiece which finds the iconic Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) employed at a state-of-the-art factory where the inescapable machinery completely overwhelms him, and where various mishaps keep getting him sent to prison. In between his various jail stints, he meets and befriends an orphan girl (Paulette Goddard). Both together and apart, they try to contend with the difficulties of modern life, with the Tramp working as a waiter and eventually a performer.

Thanks Criterion for this release (and others: City Lights, Lime Light, Great Dectator, Gold Rush, The Kid) and salute to Genius film maker and actor Charlie Chaplin!
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on July 29, 2003
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. The eating machine always has me rolling on the floor; the nonsense song is terrific (the DVD offers a "karaoke" version which, though a novelty, does tell us finally what the lyrics actually are); and all the machine gags are fast-moving gems.
The bonus materials include a long outtake and several documentaries. "Chaplin Today" features guests Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the French filmmakers behind the film Rosetta, and though their film-historian banter is not entirely to my taste, they do bring up some insights that I hadn't observed about Modern Times.
In all, a great release, and a great DVD to have for movie nights. It's a wonderful presentation of a comedy classic.
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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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on 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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on July 25, 2003
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 "Modern Times" (1936). The restoration looks pristine, with no graininess whatsoever and only the very occasional artifact. They even have a remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. My only complaints about the first disc: no audio commentary to accompany the film, and more than five minutes of warnings from FBI, Interpol, etc. in every language. I didn't sit all the way through, but my "Forward", "Next" and "Menu" buttons were disabled. I had to hit "Stop" then "Play" again to get back to the main menu.
The second disc has an introduction by biographer David Robinson documentary, in which Robinson explains that Chaplin was very concerned with and educated about economics and the role of industry in causing the Great Depression. His ideas became the driving force behind "Modern Times".
The documentary features a commentary by two French directors. I didn't find it particularly insightful. However, there is also footage of Chaplin (without his Tramp costume) with Gandhi and talking to a camera. Though brief, it gave me my first look at Chaplin the man (I had only seen him as the Tramp).
Overall, an excellent work, and highly recommended. Oh yeah, the film's good too.
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on July 16, 2003
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 seen. The Little Tramp (Chaplin) is a factory worker who has been working on the assembly line a bit too long. Even not on the line, he finds his hands making the movements that he did when working. He goes a little kooky and finds himself taking the blame for stealing bread to protect a young woman (Paulette Goddard). The Tramp also inexplicably steals from a couple of merchants and requests that the police officer nearby pay for it. This lands him in jail. He gets out, but lands himself right back in jail when he appears to lead a communist workers revolt.
The film focuses on the Tramps relationship with the woman as well as his attempts to work in the factory (several different jobs). The funniest stuff is in the factory as Chaplin lets loose with his trademark physical humor. I think this is Chaplin's best and most well-crafted films and if he is only remembered for one film, it should be this one.
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on December 1, 2001
While it is only the first Charlie Chaplin movie I have seen, I am already prepared to say that this is one of his best works. In this memorable, hilarious and touching movie, Chaplin takes on the modern era along with his newfound girl friend (Paulette Goddard) in a quest for happiness.
Chaplin is a factory worker at a rather boring factory controlled by a boss who talks to his employees through screens (If that's not television, then I don't know what it is). With the same lame, repetitive work each day, Chaplin suffers a breakdown and is sent to the hospital. He recovers and is released, only to be arrested for accidentally being the leader of a communist parade. Goddard is a homeless girl who struggles everyday to live. Chaplin and Goddard eventually meet and the two vow to get a new home, "Even if I have to work for it!"
There are countless memorable sight gags in Modern Times. My favorite is when Chaplin, employed as a mechanic's assistant, gets his boss stuck in a machine. Another equally memorable gag is when Chaplin, in prison, gets hyperactive after sprinkling 'Nose Powder' on his food and inadvertently adverts a prison break.
There is much symbolism in this movie. For most of the film, the only things that have sound are mechanical objects such as machines, cars and radios. But for most of the film (As he was through the beginning of the silent era) Chaplin refuses to talk. His memorable song at the end, however, seems to show that he had given up and was ready to enter the modern times of cinema. If only all "Comedians" these days could be as funny or creative. I guess that's the "Modern Times" for you.
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on August 28, 2001
Chaplin's Modern Times leaves us awed with various noteworthy marks. First of all, Chaplin endeavored to make his second sound film following City Lights (1931), in spite of the wide-conquering trend of talkie. Not only the background music but also occasional sound effects bring out the brilliance of the director. Second, even after two decades since his silver screen debut in 1914, the performance of Charlie the Little Tramp and Chaplin's directing had been matured, not faded, like a good wine. Those laughing spots fairly spread in the entire film proves it. Last but not least, you can never forget this film for the moment when the long-time silent Little Tramp finally open his mouth to sing!--for the first and final time, unless you count The Great Dictator (1940), the following film and another masterpiece of Chaplin. --After all those struggles, Charlie gets a job at a cafe, where his adventure partner the Gamine (Paulette Goddard; Chaplin's wife at that time) works as a dancer. Charlie is to wait and sing. As he can't remember the lyrics when rehearsing, the Gamine helps him writing the lyrics on his cuff for a cheat sheet. A fanfare goes and the Little Tramp marches in the floor stage performing an eccentric dance until he dances so hard that the cuffs are blown away. He frantically and desperately searches for the cuffs and the Gamine says (in the spoken title) "Sing! Never mind the words!"-- It is well known that Chaplin was the last resistant against talkie claiming the universality of silent films. What he performed in this "Titina" sequence, singing in the stateless language (still obvious it is conjured up with a few languages such as French or Italian) and storytelling by his brilliant pantomime. The audience in the film reacts the same way as we do: get a nice-surprise, laugh and applaud. With its theme song "Smile", composed by Chaplin, the performance of Charlie the Little Tramp is definitely one of the highlights of this film. Play it again, Charlie!
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on February 27, 2001
The genius of Charlie is very evident in this wonderful movie. Charlie's Little Tramp is one of the most well drawn characters to ever come out of Hollywood. Charlie communicates well, how life really is, by pulling laughter out of bad luck and tragedy. The sadness of the Great Depression, bread lines, lost jobs, shootings, and starving children is fodder for the Great One here as he first shows the sadness and then in the next scene makes one laugh out loud.
This is however far from a drama. It is first and foremost a comedy of amazing proportions. Charlie stretches his ability to the limit here. His jerky walk (the result of too many hours on the job), the scene in jail with the small dog, and the preacher's wife (hope I whetted your curiosity with that scene description) and Charlie "leading the parade" (honestly, that looks like something that would happen to me) are all hysterical. The funniest scene in the whole movie is the scene with the automatic lunch feeder. I was rolling on my back, laughing during this routine.
Highly recommended. You haven't watched it yet? What are you waiting for? Watch it today.
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