The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood

3.x11 Modern Times

In 1936, Charlie Chaplin reworked RenĂ© Clair’s assembly-line gag (see 3.6) for the brilliant factory sequence in Modern Times. Though Chaplin soon found himself embroiled in a lawsuit for stealing Clair’s idea, the revised camerawork produces a very different effect. If Clair’s relentless camera movement suggests that the logic of the series dangerously overwhelms individual differences, then Chaplin’s more sporadic camerawork constantly reminds us of the presence of the human within the mechanical.

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