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Wk 2_Modern_Times_pre_film_lecture

This capacity for concealment in the face of poverty

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Unformatted text preview: the squatter town, an allusion to a social phenomenon that was easy to see during the depression. Indeed, there was a small village in Central Park NYC filled with such shacks. Again, the Tramp leaves this modest home in search of better material conditions out of love, where he again enters the work force. The Tramp's inability to occupy the same space in film as machine without destroying them is shown but this is not what thwarts his plans to get a better house for his love. This time, his plans are thwarted by forces beyond his control and the factory is shut down by a labor strike. This introduction of an absurd ending to his attempt to find work in the industrial labor market this episode where he is a machinist's assistant shows that Chaplin was ambivalent about unions just as he was ambivalent about other features of industrial mechanized society. Once again, the Tramp ends up in jail. So we have seen that each time that the Tramp tries to enter into the modern work force, his incompatibility with Modern forms of work, his need to play and dream to be human foreclose integration into the society. None of the jobs last long: the factory job lasts half a day; the dock job lasts five minutes, the night watchman job lasts one night; the mechanics job, half a day. The normative desire to hold down a job in modern society does not seem to fit with his free anarchistic spirit. Each segment ends back in jail. While he is in jail the final time, the Gamin is "discovered" dancing to the music of a carnival. She gets a job as a dancer at a dance hall. This opens up the possibility for the Tramp and the Gamin to earn a living in the one form of work that, Chaplin seems to be saying, values imagination and free spirit: entertainment. The Tramp finally is heard Chaplin's resistance to the talkie and to dialogue in film can be seen throughout the film. The ways in which voices are heard in Modern Times are always less than human and usually one way communication (authority using mediated communication to bark orders at the little guy). Of the pressure on him to have the Tramp speak he wrote, "Some people suggested that the tramp might talk. That was unthinkable, for the first words he ever uttered would transform him into another person. Besides, the matrix out of which he was born was as mute as the rags he wore." By talking, he worried, he would become just one more comedian. His solution was the jibberish song, which displays the art of pantomime in its fullness. Sing! Never mind the words Whereas the spoken word in the rest of the film seems hostile to human life, here Chaplin's nonsensical singing brings forth a moment of utopian community and possibility. Yet it is very risky as well. The other utterances in the film are all indirect, mediated via the phonograph, the loudspeaker, the TV or the radio. Here his utterances are direct and provoke an intimate response. The song is...
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