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Commentaries on this Media!

The individual and the machine

by Critical Commons Manager

The body of the worker is literally consumed by the mechanisms of modernity in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. In this quintessential image of capitalist industrialization, the worker (Chaplin) on an assembly line is first transformed into an extension of the machine, losing control of his body, then ultimately being pulled inside to be ground up by the gears of industry. This scene also includes a remarkable and prescient image of corporate surveillance through large screen video in the employee washroom (later parodied in Spaceballs).

Modern Times - Play and Labor

This clip epitomizes the perceived relationship between play and labor in an industrial context. Play is seen as a liberating and potentially disruptive force in direct opposition to the rigid segmentation of work on the assembly line.

from Modern Times (1936)
Creator: Charles Chaplin
Distributor: United Artists
Posted by Jason Lipshin