Friday, April 19, 2013

Charlie Chaplin speech from 'The Great Dictator'

A pretty amazing speech from from a guy known almost exclusively for his silent films. The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first talking picture, and his most commercially successful.  I had never even heard of this movie until a few days ago, but now I'd like to see it.  The film was released in 1940 when the United States was still formally at peace with Germany.  The Great Dictator is a allegorical take on Hitler's Germany, in which Chaplin mocks and condemns Hitler, Nazism, Mussolini and fascism.

Chaplin, who was not a Jew, plays a Jewish barber who looks just like the dictator of Tomania, Adenoid Hynkel.  Near the end of the movie, there is a mix up in which Hynkel is mistaken for the barber and arrested.  Consequently, the barber is forced to assume the identity of Hynkel.  He is taken to the capital where he must give a speech. His lieutenant Garbitsch, while introducing him to the crowd, decries free speech and calls for subjugation of the Jews.  The Barber gets up and delivers a stirring speech, calling for humanity to break free from dictatorships and use science and progress to make the world better instead.  Chaplin starred, wrote, produced, scored, and directed The Great Dictator.  I don't much about Chaplin, but I like that he used his popularity and clout to make a film that addresses the greatest threat of his day.

(Full disclosure: I swiped most of this summary of the film from Wikipedia.)

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