The music of the last great silent film is performed live to picture by Covent Garden Sinfonia in a fiendishly difficult act of synchronisation.
Set during the Great Depression, Modern Times finds the iconic Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) as a luckless worker at a state-of-the-art factory, where the inescapable and ever-accelerating production line completely overwhelms him.
From factory to hospital, prison and unemployment, the Little Tramp gets caught up (sometimes literally) in the sprockets and cogs of industrialisation.
In between his stints in jail, he meets and befriends a beautiful orphan girl (Paulette Goddard). Both together and apart, they try to contend with the difficulties of modern life.
Released in 1936, almost a decade after the sound revolution, Modern Times is regarded as silent film’s final masterpiece.
Though none of the characters on screen is heard speaking, the film has a sound effects track containing industrial noises, and voices that emanate from radios, loudspeakers or televisions.
Chaplin provided a glorious orchestral score, perhaps the greatest he ever wrote.
Almost two decades later, its lush romantic theme was given lyrics by Nat King Cole and released as the worldwide hit song ‘Smile’.
The Covent Garden Sinfonia is conducted by Ben Palmer.
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