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Unformatted text preview: . Whereas the other men are trying to stop him and remain trapped in their roles as cogs in the great machine, he is gracefully and playfully dancing. W.C. Fields once referred to Chaplin as "that goddamn ballet dancer," when referring to his physical grace and it could be said that it is impossible for the Tramp's very human body to exist in the same space as a machine. One of them has to give. Here, spirit triumphs, the Tramp frees himself and, eventually, shuts down production before being taken away. As Chaplin transforms the factory into his personal playground, the factory's machines breakdown. Note that his dance includes spraying oil on the other workers, again visualizing the extent to which men who submit to such inhuman labor are cogs in the machine. The Tramp is institutionalized and, after rest and silence, regains his fortitude. Of course the trouble with modern times is that there is no escape from the noise and the speed that is relentlessly pressing on existence. Episode 2: Labor and the Police The law (police or officers) ends every sequence and every possibility of happiness for the Tramp. Here as elsewhere, the law is the protector of private property and the interests of big business, not the protectors of justice, a sentiment that was very widely held in the mid 1930s. Note how the law is represented in relation to the question of labor and the right to organize. Ripped from headlines Prison beats modern striving Enter the love interest The necessity of lovers being compatible is one of the constant features of Comedy. In this case, The Gamin is a female version of the Tramp. She is a vagabond, she is a free spirit (even more anarchistic and defiant than the Tramp). She alone, of all the female characters in the film, has shed her social morays and conventions. Like the Tramp, her motivation is always food, and Chaplin seems to be saying here as elsewhere that illegal acts like stealing, looting or squatting are rendered morally justifiable by condition. With love comes normativity Once the relationship with the Gamin is established, the Tramp has a motivation that forces him into situations that he is illsuited for as he wants to have the means to have a home. Yet the commentary on home rejects the rampant materialism that Chaplin saw as a feature of modern life, as represented in the Department store sequence, and in the scene where the Tramp and the Gamin fantasize about a bourgeois suburban existence. The couple that is parodied here, the fantasy that Chaplin wants to deflate, is one that exists by way of ignoring reality: the two victims of depression on your front lawn. This capacity for concealment in the face of poverty is one that Chaplin used the revealing function of cinema to fight. Indeed, the only time in which the two find a home is in...
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- Spring '99