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Charlie Chaplin's 'Modern Times' With the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

I recently went to the Music Center at Strathmore to see Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times," accompanied by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

"Modern Times" was Chaplin's last silent film, released in February 1936.  I'd read about it but had never actually seen it.

This was a great opportunity not only to see the film, but to see it with Chaplin's score played by the fabulous BSO conducted by Marin Alsop.

Unfortunately, I didn't take my trusty Canon camera - I used someone else's.  Which was ok - but I didn't realize the ISO was set for 80!  Indoors, no flash (my preferred way of shooting) and super slow shutter speeds meant camera shake galore.  I did get a few shots that should convey the event, though.

The Music Hall is first-class.  I've seen a number of events here.  The acoustics are first-rate, the sightlines are excellent, and the room itself is wonderful.

The shot above is the orchestra warming up.  I'm used to plonk, plonk, of ukuleles, guitars, etc, warming up.  Hearing an orchestra doing it is interesting.  Sort of semi-organized chaos.  However, I'd rather hear that than hear Phillip Glass.

Here's a shot from the hysterical automatic feeding machine scene.  I read some criticism of the film where it was said that this film was Chaplin "at the height of his powers."  Hard to disagree.  The film (and the man) were brilliant.

When it came out, it was less popular than his other films - it's believed that the social commentary kept some viewers away.  I find it ironic that the criticism and concerns Chaplin aired in 1936 are still valid today.

In that shot above, you can see the conductor, Marin Alsop, indicated by the red arrow.

The score is terrific and the BSO was sensational.  What a treat.

Here's Chaplin as The Little Tramp along with his costar, Paulette Goddard.  She was about 21 at the time; they would be married in Canton, China while travelling later that summer.  It was his third marriage, and her second.

If you have an opportunity to see "Modern Times," I encourage you to do so.  It's a fantastic film and still holds up today.


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