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The Great Dictator
The Criterion Collection
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In his notorious masterpiece, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin (City Lights, Modern Times) offers both a cutting caricature of Adolf Hitler and a sly tweaking of his own comic persona. Chaplin (in his first pure talkie) brings his sublime physicality to two roles: the cruel yet clownish “Tomanian” dictator and the kindly Jewish barber who is mistaken for him. Featuring Jack Oakie (Thieves’ Highway, Lover Come Back) and Paulette Goddard (Modern Times, The Women) in stellar supporting turns, The Great Dictator, boldly going after the fascist leader before the U.S.’s official entry into World War II, is an audacious amalgam of politics and slapstick that culminates in Chaplin’s famously impassioned plea for tolerance.
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I found the entire movie entertaining,but in my view the speech alone makes it merit a 5 star rating.Here is the text of the speech:
"I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness - not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....
Soldiers! don't give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: "the Kingdom of God is within man" - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!"
Well said,Charlie.I would like to end this review with one of my favorite quotes from John Dalberg-Acton:
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
the humor throughout while the secondary character of the barber (Chaplin in a dual role) is touching and rings with pathos. Message-oriented but
also hysterically funny -- particularly the barber chair elevation "gag' wherein Chaplin as a poor man's Hitler attempts to literally rise above Jack Oakie's imitation Mussoulini. Years in preparation and production, it was time well spent. Chaplin's first sound fewature. Think of it -- humor,
pathos, drama, romance, musical score composed by Chaplin and finally, an effective message as to the woes and the sins of fasism and total
dictatorship. Not to be missed. In fact, watch it periodically and discover what you overlooked in the prior viewing. There is always some undiscovered treasure to finf within it upon another reviewing.
his speach at the end was so anti nazi and bring out evan back then in his speach civil writes and much what still goes on.. chaplin was way ahead his time and brings out the hate about jews and hitler before the war. . nobody would listen in those days about this. real great actor and devoted to the truth about the nazis hate of the jews and what was going on before ww 11 and what did happen.
The rest of the movie was enjoyable although, because of when it was made ('39), outsiders (including Chaplin) could not know of the gut-wrenching atrocities that were born out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
It makes me wonder what Chaplin would have created if he made the movie just a few years later.
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Unfunny. I didn't laugh once. I was amazed at this. Such a cited and acclaimed movie.Read more