First, I will talk about the historical context of the film. Chaplin goes around the world during sixteen months. When he comes back to Hollywood, in 1932, he observes the economic and social results of the Great Depression, which made, in two years, seven million unemployed in the US.
Indeed, in 1929, the United States is floundered in a serious economic depression, which expands to the rest of the world. Many banks and factories go bankrupt and therefore cause the rise of the unemployment. The American economy picks up again progressively from 1933 with an economical and social program (the New Deal), put in place by Roosevelt (the president).
Charlie Chaplin has been sensitive to this crisis (he comes from a poor family). However, the description of the unemployment and the poverty is not synchronized with the date of the production (1934-1935). The movie comes out in the world, in 1936. And so, at this time, the United States is no more really in depression.
[...] However, we note that in the city, there are not only poor people even if they are majority. There are social inequalities, and a separate community. We've got a sort of social hierarchy; different social classes. Admittedly, there are poor people, but there also have rich people, who can reach to modern and industrial products, contrary to poor people who they can not, because they lack the resources. Indeed, we see rich women in a store. They wear luxurious coat . [...]
[...] They don't seem concerned, touched by the crisis. Moreover, they are a minority in a poor city. But, among the poor people, we have got people who react violently, taking part in riots ( . and those who "accept" the life as it is, who they put up with, like the Tramp and the gamin. Indeed, at the end, they do not want to change the world, but only live in it by every possible means. Poor people have not got their place in the city. [...]
[...] Moreover, in Germany, this film among others directed by Chaplin was forbidden by the censure. He has also been accused of having copies, imitated nous la liberté" directed by René Clair. In Modern Times, we have two stories happening at the same time, but at a given moment, they meet up. The Tramp works in a gigantic factory. Everyday, he makes the same thing: he tightens bolts. It is assembly-line work. Quickly, he becomes alienated, and he is committed in a hospital. [...]
[...] Furthermore, three people get in the store by offence, but not to steal something which is valuable, but only to eat something, because they are hungry, and the Tramp leaves them eat. So, in the city, there is certain solidarity between the poor. They are accomplices. They go on strike together, they eat together, and they take part in riots together . But, here, we can't consider the robbery as a sin. Indeed, people are forced to steal to survive. [...]
[...] Indeed, Chaplin develops this idea with two shots. Indeed, the film opens with an overhead shot of a flock of sheep jostling in their sheep pen, and rushing through a chute. Instantly, the sheep dissolve into a similar overhead shot of industrial workers pushing out of a subway station at rush hour on their way to work in a factory. It's a metaphor. So, the life of those workers is monotonous. It's not the man who dominates the machine, but it's the machine which dominates the man. [...]
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