Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Message for Today in Charlie Chaplin's Great Dictator Speech

When Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed produced and starred in his most successful commercial film, The Great Dictator, in 1940,  Hitler was busy ravaging Europe, Benito Mussolini had just aligned fascist Italy with Nazi Germany and The United States was dithering on the sidelines.

While the news reports from Europe shocked many Americans, most were just going about their daily lives and wanted no part of what they considered a European war. Americans watched uneasily as Hitler spread his excesses and poisonous anti-Semitism across Europe, but in 1940, they were not prepared to get involved. That would not happen until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December7,1942.

Against this backdrop, Chaplin created the character of  " The Great Dictator" and made a film that in terms of human, as well as artistic values, still resonates today.  In a pivotal soliloquy, The Great Dictator, played by the great Charlie Chaplin, himself, offers a defense of individual freedom and human dignity that is, if anything, more important in our post Hiroshima, post bunker buster, and post 9/11 world than it was on the cusp of World War II in 1940. 

The dream lives on in spite of everything.  Watch the video. You'll see what I mean

H/T  Ole Olson

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