Derrick - try Modern Times next. It's just about perfect, mixing Chaplin's slapstick with trenchant social commentary (the scene where Charlie is mistaken for a rousing Communist leader kills me, every time I watch). What Chaplin had to say about economics and labor exploitation is as insightful today as in 1936. And it's also the film where the Tramp gets a happy ending for once.
Post by smang12345 on Mar 25, 2011 17:58:01 GMT -5
I remembered seeing this video a while ago. It is footage of a premiere of a Charlie Chaplin movie and this woman seems to be talking on a cell phone. Anyone have any other guesses as to what this is actually showing? I am completely stumped.
I wrote into the show about Chaplin. Definately watch Modern Times.
Charlie Chaplin is one of the few geniuses to come out of the movie industry. He's the original Renaissance man of Hollywood - actor, writer, director, editor, composer, musician and comedian. The themes of his films often revolved around poverty and run in with cops. During the Great Depression his work became more political taking on the new factory system of Henry Ford and his devastating satire of Adolf Hitler or Adenoid Hynkel for my fellow Alan Moore fans. He was the constant subject of controversy. He was accused of cowardice for not joining the British Army in WWI, he raised eyebrows with love of teenage girls, and even his possible Jewish ancestory was the subject of Nazi propaganda and a FBI investigation. He refused to confirm or deny being a Jew saying, "It would only encourage the anti-semites". But it was he left-wing politics in the age of McCarthy that lead to his exile. My favorite classic Hollywood film is Modern Times (1936), which still holds up today as damning critique of factory life and a defense of working people and the individual. This work more than any other put him on the radar of the powers that be. But he was no stranger to notoriety, he even founded United Artists with the infamous D.W. Griffith.
The Keystone Kops were often vulgar and violent, one scene was an old man being kicked in the face for laughs. That's 1915 humor for you who thought that entertainment was less coarse in the "good old days". Chaplin's subversion was not the total chaos of Keystone, but through the magic of transformation. He gets drunk and tries to get water out of a telephone, shines his shoes with toothbrush and paste, while in drag he sits on a feathered hat he becomes a rooster, and turns a lampshade into skirt for nude statue making her dance. One of my favorites is Gold Rush where he cooks and eats his boots including his shoelaces like spaghetti. He constantly played with rhythm and mobility. In Modern Times he becomes so used to tightening bolts that his body keeps performing the motion like a reflex and goes around tightening anything in sight that might need it. The Little Tramp is always playing with the forces that shape our world. His jokes could still be vulgar and violent, but they always had a context. In Modern Times the tramp comes to the big city looking for a job during a time of mass unemployment and union activity. He is an individual trapped in the factory struggling against Fordism - the assembly line, mass production and Taylorism. The time study or Taylorism is hated by anyone who has ever worked in factory. Every movement in your daily work is timed so it can be simplified and replicated, eliminating unneccessary and ackward motion - in effect giving greater control of process of work to the boss . This is meant to increase efficiency and productivity, but it turns people into robots and robs them of their individuality and creativity. Chaplin knew that when technology dominates workers they increasingly become alienated.
Watch the film closely and you will have great insight into Charlie's mind. Machines and humans become interchangable in the factory. He is forced to work faster and faster, even internalize the logic of the machine. He's even shoved into a feeding machine to reduced the time away from his specific job. He can't even escape to the bathroom because the boss is spying on him with what appears to be a CCTV system. How prophetic? At one point he's even sucked into the machine itself. Chaplin is constantly in unneccessary motion challenging the order of the factory. At another point he is subversively still challenging the system's need for constant activity. His tramp is uncontrollable, ungovernable, undisciplined and ultimately unemployable. His marches to the beat of his own drum and his actions are for the sake of his own pleasure. After being kicked out of the factory he becomes a singing waiter and performs a lewd and sexual song for a grateful audience. At least in this line of work our hero appears more comfortable. Modern Times links work to hunger and like many of his other works makes a joke at the attempt to get work, food or shelter. The many scenes of the the Little Tramp trying to get food in a myriad of ways. Honesty is constantly punished and lying is rewarded. When a red flag falls of a truck during a strike he's arrested by police while trying to return it, because they mistake him for the strike leader. Doing things the proper way are shown to be soul destroying and destined for failure, while breaking the rules leads to capturing the prize - food - his means of survival. The police, the government, the factory and other social institutions are shown as unsatisfying as well as a source of frustration and alienation. His tramp isn't simply ignorant or lazy he's just unwilling to conform to the systems of modern America.
Charlie was a master of his medium and in movies that means movement or the lack of it. In the factory our hero is dangerously mobile. He leaves his post, he doesn't work quick enough, and he screws around. When he stops moving all together, defying the constant motion of the system and clogging the cogs of the machine with his own body, he commits the greatest crime of factory life. This is unique because in the world of the Little Tramp he is only still when he is being punished by the cops or in this case the boss. He's making a great comparison between prison and the factory where control of movement is essential. In the end the tramp fails to settle down, his shack falls aparts, he fails at work and sets out on the road which is his true home. The tramp in the end chooses freedom and humanity over comfort and predictability, and I wonder if that's what our choice may ultimately be.
I'm a Vatican warlock assassin! I kill people for the Pope - a duh!