Chaplin’s Great Speech
Recently I tuned into TCM and caught the last half of The Great Dictator (1941). It has been some time since I saw the film, and I was mesmerized, as I always am, by Charlie Chaplin. There are wonderful echoes of the Little Tramp in Chaplin’s portrayal of the Jewish barber and his physical comedy, particularly in his portrayal of Adenoid Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania, is in top form. Watching I was thinking that even though the film is a talkie, it really doesn’t need it.
Until the end that is.
Posing as Hynkel the Jewish barber takes the stage at the military parade the delivers a speech. In this final scene, Chaplin is impassioned and bold. His message is serious and inspiring. It is a call to action, to compassion and human kindness. A call needed at the time the film was made and a call that rings true today.
This was Chaplin’s first film with dialogue. He made it count.
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2 thoughts on “Chaplin’s Great Speech”
Chaplin spent many months drafting and re-writing the speech for the end of the film, a call for peace from the barber who has been mistaken for Hynkel. Many people criticized the speech, and thought it was superfluous to the film. Others found it uplifting. Regrettably Chaplin’s words are as relevant today as they were in 1940.
Indeed they are still very relevant.