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Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin in a scene from the film Modern Times.

Charlie Chaplin in a scene from the film Modern Times

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Dehumanization of the Industrial Age

Made at the height of the Depression, in 1936, the film explores the dehumanization and dislocation that accompanied the advent of the industrial age. It provided modern film with some of its most iconic images and a song, "Smile," that became an instant pop standard.

 

The film's theme is spelled out in the foreword that runs after the opening credits: "'Modern Times.' A story of industry, of individual enterprise—humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness." The film then opens with an overhead shot of a flock of sheep rushing through a chute. The sheep quickly dissolve into a similar shot of industrial laborers surging out of a subway station on their way to the factory.

Schnakenberg, Robert E. "Modern Times." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 389-390. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Apr. 2012

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