The BBC SSO were conducted by Timothy Brock who had worked to restore the original score by Charlie Chaplin. Brock introduced the evening and explained a bit about Chaplin's creative method and his collaboration with Hollywood composer Alfred Newman. Newman was just 23 at the time he worked with Chaplin who could not read or write music but could compose it. Chaplin would create all of the music for all of the instruments and Newman would assist and translate his concepts into standard music writing for an orchestra. Chaplin would use a kind of Kinetophone (I can't remember exactly what kind of viewer Brock said he used) to watch and rewind the film and compose one and half minutes worth of music at a time. The whole process took six months - a lifetime in Hollywood, but with Chaplin bankrolling the project, time may have been money, but money was no object.
Newman went on to become a prolific and high profile composer and conductor notable for his score to the 1944 noir film, Laura.
Soon the plot took over and I was transfixed by Chaplin and Paulette Goddard's (the 'Gamine' and Chaplin's real life wife at the time) whimsical fight to survive in an industrial depression ridden landscape. The music melted into the film and at times I forgot the orchestra was even there because sound and vision had blended into one experience.
Modern Times has stood the test of time. It characters are engaging, it's premise still relevant, and it's humour classic. You can view the whole film on Youtube (below) but I recommend viewing on the big screen if you ever get the chance.