Brasch, Ilka (2014):
"Modern Times, the ‘Pre-Digital Hum‘, and the Impossibility of Silence." Pivot 3.1: 54-79.
Journal Article

The article considers Charlie Chaplin's 1936 feature Modern Times as highly influenced by the sound transition. Even though the film appeared when film sound had undergone narrative integration and synchronized sound had ceased to attract the spectator's attention in its own right, Modern Times frames cinematic sound as unnatural. Thereby it employs techniques and experiences from the sound transition and uses them for comic purposes. At the same time, the relations beween the film's depiction of machines, its use of sound and music, and the flow of time is constantly under negotiation. What results is a pre-digital era Hum that is constituted by an impossibility of silence in film after the sound transition, an overall mechanical hiss of the cinematic apparatus that inscribes itself into the film, and the aestheticization of rhythm and noise in the modern era.