Harness, Kyp. The Art of Charlie Chaplin : A Film-by-Film Analysis. North Carolina: McFarland and Company Inc., 2008.
Chapter: Modern Times
The chapter in this book analyzes, in depth, the film Modern Times. It first reviews how Chaplin’s alter ego, known as the Tramp, has evolved through film. The Tramp is the character Chaplin takes in the films in which he stars. The Tramp has been known as being frenetic with characteristics such as kicking, punching, and thumbing his nose at others. Over time, in the films, the Tramp became more gentle and sympathetic with audiences. The Tramp has most importantly remained constant in “stimulating societal upheaval in some form” (Harness 148). Modern Times is no exception when it comes to the above mentioned characteristic. Due to pressures from the industry and the rise of sound, the Tramp makes his final appearance in Modern Times.
The notion of the Tramp is important to my thesis because it is the medium through which the message of a homogenous society is carried. Familiar to audiences by its mannerisms and humor, the Tramp was a powerful tool for Chaplin in sending out this message. We see Chaplin’s critique of homogeneity as a result of industrialization through the behavior of the Tramp in the film. The Tramp, who is a worker on an assembly line in a large factory, constantly messes up and breaks from the other workers in line. It is clear that his individuality is not appreciated by his employers. Through comedy and familiarity, the audience sympathizes with the Tramp. In sympathizing with the Tramp, we can understand the message Chaplin makes and, with him, critique the homogeneity of society.
Chaplin had learned of unemployment strikes during this new age through his own experience as well as stories from others. The unpleasant stories he became aware of inspired Chaplin to make this film.
This relates to my thesis because the sole reason for making Modern Times was due to the effects of the industrializatiion period. The dehumanizing labors of workers "to [Chaplin] it represented the dawn of a new 'modern' age, less hospitable to human individuality. For as the assembly line presented a series of identical parts to be fastened in an identical fashion, it seemed to demand of its workers an identicality, a conformity of movement and mind which paralleled the uniformity of the products of mass production" (Harness 150). We see here that Chaplin believed that this type of labor could have severe consequences on workers' individuality, not just in the work place, but in their lives. Having a homogenous society is, in fact, the opposite of progress and Chaplin was smart enough to see that and choose to use his notoriety and talent as a filmmaker to present this message to his audience.
|Introduction to the major strands of thought that have developed over the last century by world music scholars. A brief history of each theory and its founders is presented, along with practical applications. Topics covered include structural approaches, linguistics, Marxist explanations, cognition and communication theories, performance theory, gender, ethnicity, and identity studies, phenomenology, historical research, and postmodern, postcolonial, and global issues. (publisher)|
|The Enlightenment saw a critical engagement with the ancient idea that music carries certain powers--it heals and pacifies, civilizes and educates. Yet this interest in musical utility seems to conflict with larger notions of aesthetic autonomy that emerged at the same time. This apparent conflict raises questions about the notion of an aesthetic-philosophical break between the 18th and 19th c. The English traveler and music scholar Charles Burney is connected with the ancient myth of Orpheus in discussions of 18th-c. musical travel, views on music's curative powers, interest in non-European music, and concerns about cultural identity. Arguing that what people said about music was central to some of the great Enlightenment debates surrounding such issues as human agency, cultural difference, and national identity, this book adds a new dimension to postcolonial studies, which has typically emphasized the literary and visual at the expense of the aural. It also demonstrates that these discussions must be viewed in context at the era's broad and well-entrenched transnational network, and emphasizes the importance of travel literature in generating knowledge at the time. (publisher)|
Light, James F. "Nathaniel West and the Ravaging Locust." American Quarterly. Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 1960), pp.44-54. JSTOR. 9 Apr. 2008. <http://www.jstor.org/action/showArticle?doi=10.2307/2710189&Search=yes&term=faye&term=locust&item=1&returnArticleService=showArticle&ttl=424&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dfaye%2Blocust;gw%3Djtx;prq%3Dfayelocust;Search%3DSearch;hp%3D25>.
The main contention of the article is that fear is the strongest element in West’s novel The Day of the Locust. The author contends West conveys a sense of fear through the use of grotesqueness, violence and artificiality. However, the author contends the strongest symbol inciting fear is Tod’s “prophetic painting of the ravaging locust.” The article investigates the genesis of the novel in West’s early life and contends its inspiration came out of a fearful event in West’s life. Also, he speculates fear plays a strong part in West’s life as he grew up Jewish and did not fit entirely with any social group. The author begins to investigate various characters and concludes that their grotesqueness arises out of a need for an emotional life. He observes West does not depict the honest everyman in Hollywood, and concludes that on the fringes of the novel they sit as spectators while the main characters play the roles of performers. Finally, the author determines the everyman, represented by Homer, is torn between a passionless life and the doomed attempt to satisfy emotional need.
This article interestingly contends that the central concept of West’s book is a concept that I find all but completely absent from the film adaptation. Whereas in the book fear appears to play a constant role in the lives of the characters, the film paints them oblivious to the impending destruction around them as well as the sources of that destruction, astutely observed by the author as grotesqueness, artifice and violence. Violence constantly comes up through the film, but the sense of fear that accompanies it in the novel is strangely absent. Save for the riot that erupts just before the end of the film, fear does not play as strong of a role in the film as in West’s novel.