Have you ever seen Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film The Great Dictator? NO??? Well, neither have I!!
In all honesty though, I feel like I’ve seen this movie because I’ve seen so many clips from it I can pretty much fill in the blanks. Its the age old tale: Boy saves pilot. Pilot becomes stormtrooper (not the Star Wars kind). Boy grows up and becomes barber. Everyone has to run from a dictator who’s looking for jews. Barber looks exactly like dictator. Barber somehow manages to convince everyone that he’s the dictator and to stop this war of madness. A timeless story, no?
(If that’s not how it goes down… I repeat: I haven’t actually seen the film)
If you also haven’t seen the film (or haven’t even heard of it), it uses Nazi-like imagery and themes to help the audience understand that this is a commentary on the events that were going on in Germany and Europe at the time. Think The Interview but instead of James Franco, we have Charlie Chaplin. The film itself is very good, It even has a 92% ‘fresh’ approval on the movie-rating website Rotten Tomatoes. But I wanted to write this post because of my– and many others’– favorite part of the film.
It’s the moment of glory. The barber is finally going to take the stage as the great dictator to attempt to keep up his charade as the dictator, and he suddenly realizes what he has to do: he has to try and stop the war. While the real dictator was arrested for something absolutely silly like duck hunting (it is a Chaplin film, after all), the Barber is appealing to the crowds that he has made a mistake and he pleads them all for goodwill and peace. The speech itself is astounding. It takes a hard turn from Chaplin’s normal silly antics and is still to this day regarding as one of the most captivating speeches ever delivered. You can watch below:
“You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men.”
Amazing, right? If I ever had to perform a monologue, it’d be that. Although it’s not very funny, how could you make that funny? Even Chaplin took a turn in drama, I guess.
I used the below articles and websites to write this article: