Charlie Chaplin- Can you hear me now?

What really interested me about Chaplin’s film, “Modern Times”, was the use of sound. Sure, in any movie the soundtrack plays a vital role in the overall message of the movie. Nobody ever questions why there is background music in movies, or how it started. The soundtrack of a film can either make or break the film as a whole. It can also give a film a different interpretation or overall feeling and mood.

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As we all know, films started out as silent. In my experiences, silent films are awkward because… well, it’s silent! Back in the day, the reels that the film was projected from was loud and distracting from the content of the silent movies. So, this is where the film score comes in to play. Charlie Chaplin composed the background score in “Modern Times”. It’s quite remarkable, really, how a simple sound can change how a scene is interpreted. What really interested me about Chaplin’s film, “Modern Times”, was the use of sound. In any movie, the movie soundtrack and sounds play a vital role in the overall message of the movie.

For the majority of this movie, the soundtrack gives a feeling of mechanism and routine. It is very modernizing, almost, and the factory rhythms are emphasized through the rhythms of the music. Another sound we repeatedly hear is the noise that signals the start of the machine. This sound is mechanized, too. Imagine if we heard a horn to a clowns car or a whimsical sound. The machine would seem much less intimidating and large and more like a toy of some kind.

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A simple example is this “How to Make Chili Cheese Nacho Dip” video. When making food or watching cooking shows or videos, there is usually a fun, upbeat soundtrack playing in the background. Cooking and food are topics that are usually looked at as being fun and happy. The sad music just gives it a depressing, sad and melancholy feeling. In this video especially, I almost feel like laughing since the music soundtrack is so unfit for the context of the video, giving cooking chili cheese nacho dip a whole new level of sadness.

1 thought on “Charlie Chaplin- Can you hear me now?

  1. atk5149

    Great blog. As I’ve been researching and learning about Chaplin this seems to be a really common theme. I didn’t realize that incorporating more sound into film could even be viewed as a bad thing. Innovation, right?

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