Modern Times

"Film takes a look at its own past and future in this wonderful tribute to cinematography."

Scottish director Ben Craig pays homage to Charles Chaplin, Stanley Kubrick and film history in general in Modern Times, a short that takes a look at the past and future of film, and reflects on the collective ritual of watching movies.

Some elements of the short include: a high degree of self-reflexivity (a film that includes another film, along with many subjects related to film), moving cameras, no conflict present, use of non-diegetic music that takes a prominent role over the images in the style of Kubrick, and a SciFi staging that transmits coldness and warms towards the end with the images of human expressions.

The aesthetic of Modern Times features frequent use of one-point perspective and symmetry (a nod to Kubrick) and SciFi-related iconography, combined with motion graphics and film footage from the 1930s. Light plays a prominent role, as the film stages an unusual movie projection, presenting the spaceship as a projector and the surface of the moon as a screen.

Locations employed include a spaceship’s interior, outer space, a film theater inside the space ship, factory environments from Chaplin’s film and the surface of the moon. Characters in the movie include a projectionist, spectators and of course Charles Chaplin himself.

According to the director, he came up with the idea for the film when he read that the British Film Institute was working on the restoration of vintage films, which made him wonder “how long in the future will these films be enjoyed, by whom and where?”.

No professional actors took part in the film, all characters and crew were friends and colleagues. CG and compositing work was all done by the director himself and took two months to complete. Modern Times was made with no money, little time and a lot of passion.

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