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Unformatted text preview: a mix of different languages including some that are comprehensible in English, yet the meaning of the song (about a rich old man and a tart) seem clear to the audience. The language of action, of expressive visual and corporeal signification, is universally comprehensible. Chaplin here, as he did in City Lights, seems to be arguing that significant communication can occur without the spoken word. Of course, again, the happiness and acceptance of society is only momentary as the law serves a warrant to the Gamin. We have seen, up to this point, a film that satirizes and parodies many elements of modern life and seems to say that modern life, with its enslavement to mechanization, its foreshortening of time and foreclosing of imagination, is incompatible with the Tramp. So rather than society being transformed, and the elements that get in the way of the heroes happiness purged from it, the Tramp leaves society. All Chaplin films, save Gold Rush, end with the tramp leaving the society that will not accept him and heading out to the road. Originally, the ending had Chaplin back in prison and then, when he got out, he finds the Gamin again and this time she is a nun. Religion has cloistered her free spirit, and he is left to fend for himself. Instead we get this... Modern Times argues that the free spirited human being is incompatible with modern industrial civilization. The two cannot mutually coexist. Yet, here he offers a sentiment that seems to call for solidarity and companionship as the antidote. The equality in spirit of the two characters makes this a kind of ending onto the perpetual road of life analogous to a buddy film. For the last time, the Tramp's call for optimism and hope in the face of every problem that life can hurl his way touched audiences. Again, comedy and tragedy are not far apart, he seems to say, it is merely the world view that separates them. Though many of the critiques of modern mass media society would be leveled again a couple of years later in The Great Dictator this was the last time the little Tramp would be seen. Chaplin seemed to know, in a sense, that in a filmic universe now populated by talking stars, the Tramp could no longer exist....
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2013 for the course COMM 150 taught by Professor Jordan during the Spring '99 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
- Spring '99