Mood boards help determine an aesthetic, story, or feelings by providing colors and imagery to convey a creative project’s emotion. For this week’s
Charlie Chaplin’s character in Modern Times is seen to go through various segments throughout the duration of the movie and faces a multiplicity of social and political situations.
The first society the viewers are given relates similarly to a dystopian or totalitarian world. Even though the setting takes place within a factory called the Electro Steel Corp., there is one leading figure who seems to be dictating how the place is being ruled over. The leader monitors everyone’s actions over a monitor and makes sure everyone works in line. If production is going to slow, he will tell someone to speed up the conveyors. Everyone is working on an assembly line where there is no time for breaks except for a lunch break, and the few minutes Chaplin goes to the bathroom for a smoke, a monitor comes behind him to tell him to get back to work.
This idea of factory work is similar to the work seen in Metropolis, except this time the workers are here for the purpose of struggling to make money and they seem to at least have a little bit more fluidity in their movements.
Here the main priority of this environment is to maximize production and get everyone to work as efficiently as possible. The movie did an interesting thing to portray this by introducing the Billows feeding the machine. Chaplin’s character was forced to test out this machine without consent, so whether of not this machine turned out to be dangerous was unimportant to those who were pushing for this product. At the end, the machine ended up breaking down and was less practical than hoped. However, imagine if the machine had actually worked. Then the laborers would be stuck at their positions with no say, exemplifying the idea where the machines have begun controlling us. They wouldn’t have any option to object to this machine. If the inventors furthered their ideas, they would probably end up creating the sleeping machine as well so that manufacturing could take place 24/7.
Production had taken over the lives of the laborers, which is why Chaplin ended up going crazy in the end and was sent to jail. Machines and technology are portrayed to dehumanize people in this film as they begin to lack emotions and become one with the machines. There are scenes in the film such as when Chaplin is fed into the conveyor belt or even being fed bolts that portray this idea well.
Once Chaplin was released from jail a realization of being set out in the real world kicks in and he is fed a desire to be sent back to jail. As mentioned in “Modernity, Hyperstimulus, and Sensationalism” by Ben Singer there is a sense of anxiety when considering the modern city. There’s always a fear of danger and wondering how we can make ends meet to survive when interacting with people and things in our everyday lives. This was something Chaplin was not ready for. Even though he was free from his cell, there are other burdens of life such as figuring out a job to support oneself to obtain food and clothes on your back. So it is understandable to see why Chaplin would rather go back and enjoy his leisure time then go back to this society that drove him mad enough to get sent here in the first place.
There was one thing driving Chaplin to eventually stay out of jail, which had been the girl he met played by Paulette Goddard. The two began to envision a life together. This sort of American dream to be independent and achieve success. This dream drove Chaplin hard enough to be encouraged to work again. His first job led him to get sent back to jail, but once he was out again he was determined enough and found another job at a factory. This was an odd choice since the last time he had been at the factory he went crazy to a point where he had become both self-destructive and broke down his surroundings. However, in order to strive towards a better future and gain that happy life that he and Goddard were aiming for, he would need to work with the machines again and allow them to be integrated back into his life. However, this job ends up dissipating as well when the workers go on strike and Chaplin has no choice but to participate in the activity even though his main goal was to obtain a better life. During this time period, the major issue with labor was making more money had been at the expense of other’s lives.
So many events had gone on in this movie. Chaplin had been in and out of jail multiple times as well as obtained around four jobs. The director hadn’t based this movie on one overall storyline, instead we a fight of going back and forth between short clips of many different situations during the movie. In the Ben Singer reading, an idea that he discusses is sensationalism. A common factor in modern movies that tend to be prevalent in modern films is an over stimulus of actions as part of the excitement is having a “jumble of objects and reality thrown together at random”. Which is why Modern Times was made in the way it had been. The movies fast paced sequences reflect the environment produced by modernity where everything is constantly moving without rest. This business is a way to often get audiences to continuously think and be on their toes. They don’t have a moment to be distracted from what is going on. Humans have a common need to be stimulated, which is why we have a difficult time keeping concentration. But when media is exciting, our attention is drawn. So even though Modern Times was a bit comical, it touches upon many prevalent issues that were occurring during this period and allows people to get more in tune with what is going on.
Charney, Leo, and Vanessa R. Schwartz. “Modernity, Hyperstimulus, and the Rise of Popular Sensationalism.” Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life. Berkeley, CA: U of California Pr, 1996. N. pag. Print.