Good Times During Hard Times
Wow — I didn’t expect this old movie to be a refreshing experience. It’s more of a stride into a new world, rather than a step back in time. “Modern Times,” in pseudo-silent film fashion, chronicles a man’s journey from one job to another during the Great Depression. It sounds “depressing” but funnyman Charlie Chaplin lights up every frame he waddles into. His character is an endearing loony, whose magnetic personality easily attracts accidents.
Chaplin inserts himself in cleverly choreographed scenes that reap awe and delight: a test run on a feeding machine, a dive into an assembly-line machine, a consumption of “joy powder,” a blindfolded roller-skating, and a waiter trapped amid a dancing crowd. These are to the movie as the big song-and-dance numbers are to a musical. Furthermore, the movie is hardly limited by its mime act. This is a well-sustained movie, proving that substantial dialogue isn’t essential; a character’s behavior, gait, and expression are more telling than spoken words. I wish that more movies like these (not necessarily silent) are produced, especially since this country is in serious bad shape. “Modern Times” is a lasting model of comfort. It doesn’t escape and bury the pits of reality; it admirably embraces them and encourages us to smile into the sunset.