Essay on Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times Movie Analysis

1061 Words Nov 21st, 2010 5 Pages
Mary Woodling
Org. Communications
Film Analysis Paper
9/2/10
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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Through specialization, like that of the assembly line in “Modern Times” each employee would be trained and know precisely what job they were to complete. Workers took on simple segmented tasks that required little mental stimulation to perform. Chaplin depicted this monotony through his presentation of a line worker continually performing the same movements from a stationary position. The worker even performs the mechanical movement, a sort of automated action unable to be switched off, when he steps away from the line. Images such as these show how the specialization destroys the humanity of the worker making him solely an action or performance in the motion of consumer production. Still it is not only the type of action that is chosen and controlled by this science inspired management, it is also the precise way in which it is preformed. Standardization was one of the most important tenants in classical management. The idea was that if all specialized workers preformed tasks in the most efficient way production would increase. Taylor referred to this most efficient performance as the “one best way”. He believed that science could help him discover one exceptionally efficient way to perform any task. This “one best way” would allow any worker to continually and efficiently produce product. Standardization for the benefit of efficiency was taken to extremes. As depicted in “Modern Times”, factories began standardizing all human activities and needs. Chaplin’s