Great Moments In Film – The Great Dictator (1940)

The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin’s first talkie and also the last appearance oh his famous character The Little Tramp. In it, the Tramp is a Jewish barber in Tomania (Germany) who bears a strong resemblance to the Dictator of said country, one Hynkel (Adolph Hitler). To understand he following scene: the Tramp has replaced Hynkel and is forced to give a speech that millions would ultimately hear. And what a speech it is.

Chaplin had fought switching over to talkies as he felt that once The Tramp spoke, the magic would be lost. I would tend to agree. Instead he waited until there was something important to say; something that would continue his work in irritating the wrong people in the United States government. In this speech, it isn’t so much The Tramp talking as it is Chaplin breaking the fourth wall, pleading to all who are listening and watching. It’s striking that a star so big would take a stand this controversial and strong, but Chaplin (like John Lennon and others after him) was a different sort of person altogether.

It is a remarkable piece of film. I wish I could say that Chaplin’s self-proclaimed “Humanist” (not to be confused with the dreaded “C” word) vision would some day be fulfilled, but I fear it won’t be…but, like Chaplin, it shouldn’t stop us from trying.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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~ by chrislejarzar on January 12, 2011.

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