Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times Movie Analysis
Film Analysis Paper
Chaplin’s Vision of Scientific Management The 1930’s were a period of economic misfortune, industrial standardization, and social struggle. Entertainment of the thirties was laced with powerful depictions of the period’s culture. One such example can be seen in the work of Charlie Chaplin, specifically his film “Modern Times”. The wisely constructed scenes of this film portrayed Chaplin’s opinions of the period’s prominent management styles. The production elements of the workshop scene, in particular, display Chaplin’s criticism of classical management ideas of specialization, standardization, replaceability and centralization. At the time this film was made the U.S.
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This machine was designed not only to allow labors to work through lunch, but also allowed the standardization of method and the types of food served. The feeding machine scene attests to the idea that the worker is an extension of the machine, another cog in the profit mechanism, void of all humanity. These inhuman cogs are easily controlled and predictable. Every worker becomes conventional and understands that they must follow the directions of the upper hierarchy or be replaced by another impressionable cog. The mass unemployment allowed for great replaceability in the work force. Thanks to specialization and standardization any lever or cog in the system could be easily trained and replaced. A new employee could quickly be taught the “one best way” in their position and take the place of any worker who malfunctioned. Chaplin addresses the malfunctioning worker when his character has a nervous break down brought on by monotonous work. The worker becomes crazed and squirts his fellow cogs with oil. He refuses to return to work, so the hierarchy contacts a mental institution to apprehend and re-brain wash him into assimilation. Any worker attempting to individualize or personalize their work was seen as a malfunction in the system, and were treated just as Charlie’s character was, as insane. Controlling hierarchy with in the periods factories were the sole means of leadership, sanity control and