Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2010

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 84 of 111

Modern T Released 75 years ago, Charlie Chaplin’s more modern than you might imagine. their pen and rushing through a chute. The sheep dissolve into industrial workers pushing out of a subway station at rush hour on their way to work. This could be New York in 2010 or even in 2020, but B in fact, “Modern Times,” written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin, takes place in an unnamed city in the mid-’30’s at the height of the Great Depression. And while its not-so-subtle symbolism is now 75 years old, it’s timelessly resonant: people live under the tyranny of mechanically (or digitally) measured time, mindlessly racing like wooly sheep to keep up with their schedules, deadlines and co-workers so as to obey the law of “Time Is Money.” That lone black sheep we see at the beginning represents Chaplin’s “Little Tramp,” of course. With his familiar mustache, small Derby hat, baggy pants, oversized shoes pointing ever outward, tight jacket and cane, he thumbs his nose at conformity throughout “Modern Times” — just as Chaplin was thumbing his at the “modern” technology of the synchronized sound film. Even a decade after “talkies” had become de rigueur, Chaplin eneath superimposed movie credits, a clock face fills the screen, its second hand advancing inexorably toward six o’clock. We then see an overhead shot of a flock of sheep (one of them black) packed and jostling in refused to let his Tramp talk, believing that it would destroy the universal appeal of the world’s then-most recognizable character, which his creator had meticulously crafted over 20 years of “silents.” Yet tickets had to be sold. Although Chaplin resisted traditional, synchronized voice dialogue in “Modern Times,” he compromised by having voices and sound effects emanate from various devices, including a radio, a phonograph and, predating George Orwell’s book 1984, written and published in 1949, a giant-screen TV monitor. In one scene we even hear Chaplin’s actual voice singing an imaginary, nonsense song of gibberish. “Modern Times” comprises a series of set pieces whose common thread is The Tramp either besting or being bested by Authority in the form of bosses, policemen, doctors and convicts. When we first meet him, he is employed as a factory worker whose job it is to tighten bolts on an endless stream of steel plates carried on the conveyor belt. It’s mind-numbing work, and after a series of mishaps with his supervisor, his co-workers and most notably, the machinery (including being sucked through giant gears and getting assaulted by an automated eating device), the little guy suffers a minor nervous breakdown. Off he’s packed to an asylum. Cured, he embarks on a series of hilarious misadventures that put him out of work, land him in jail or make him 86 Peer to Peer

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