For the month of September, the JCCC Film Series projected Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film “Modern Times.”
The event was led by Mary Anne Matos, project coordinator, who gave insight on the state of the world during the time the film was made and the impact it had on society. This was Chaplin’s first film which addressed political issues and paved the way for his later, highly political films like “The Dictator.”
Chaplin is considered one of the greatest silent film makers ever. This was the second film of his in which sound was included — not through dialogue, but through mechanical devices in the film like televisions. This hard-to-catch aspect of the film was revealed by Matos in the post-movie discussion, just one of many facts that made this discussion so worthwhile.
What makes the film so special, though, is not how the sound was used. It was the film’s message and how it was delivered. When the film was made, the United States was going through The Great Depression and Chaplin was able to shed light on these issues through comedy.
That is what made the film so funny. It was humorous to see how Chaplin used slapstick and facial expression, but what made it a timeless classic was the grain of truth used in all the comedy. Through the repetitiveness of Chaplin losing job after job and going to jail every week, he was able to highlight the awful nature people were attempting to provide for their families.
Even though the film highlights issues of people in the ’30s, there is something that audiences can take away from the film even today, like not being able to catch a break in life. Even though the film is 83 years old, there is something here that everyone can walk away from and see themselves in.
After the film ended, Matos went around the room to ask everyone what they appreciated about the film. While there was a good discussion afterward, not a lot of people showed up. This was unfortunate because Matos was a great source of information that both film lovers and the general audience would have appreciated.
These events absolutely have my recommendation – seriously, go. There are two more scheduled in the coming months: the controversial Lars Von Trier’s “The Five Obstructions” in October and the 1984 film “Clue” in November.
Story by Jake Ditto