The screening of a digitally restored 35mm print of Charles Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) and a look at rare behind-the-scenes photographs revealing the techniques used in creating the film's special effects will be the focus of “Techno Chaplin,” an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' program hosted by visual effects supervisor Craig Barron and silent film author John Bengtson on Thursday, July 24, at 8 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.
Presented by the Academy's Science and Technology Council, the program will, as per the Academy's press release, “examine Chaplin's significant use of technical effects such as matte shots, process shots, miniatures and rear projection to complement real-life industrial settings. The presentation also will include a multimedia tour of 1930s Los Angeles, offering a visual journey of the city that served as a backdrop in Chaplin's work.”
Written, directed, and produced by Chaplin, Modern Times is the story of a factory worker trying to cope with the “modern” world. Echoes of René Clair's superior À nous la liberté (1931) can be found throughout the film, which marks the last screen appearance of the Little Tramp. Additionally, Modern Times happens to be the last major silent film released by a Hollywood studio (that is, until Mel Brooks' Silent Movie).
Also in the cast: silent film veterans Henry Bergman, Chester Conklin (above, with Chaplin), Wilfred Lucas, and Hank Mann, and former extra and chorus girl Paulette Goddard, who, as the pretty gamine from the slums, all but steals the film from under Chaplin's fake mustache.
Barron is a veteran of Industrial Light & Magic and currently heads the Marin-based effects company Matte World Digital. He also serves on the Academy's Board of Governors (Visual Effects Branch).
Bengston, a lawyer and film historian, is the author of Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood through the Films of Charlie Chaplin and its Buster Keaton counterpart, Silent Echoes.
Tickets to “Techno Chaplin” are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets are available for purchase by mail, at the Academy box office, or online at www.oscars.org. Doors open at 7 p.m. All seating is unreserved.
The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. Free parking is available through the entrance on Homewood Avenue (one block north of Fountain Avenue).
For additional information, visit www.oscars.org or call (310) 247-3600.
Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library