The mindset of the world was in a downward spiral at the beginning of WWII, leaving humanity divided and weak. This feeble world would give strength to Hollywood’s biggest comedian silent film star; Charlie Chaplin to make his first talking film with a direct message to the down trotted world at the brink of a second world war. Chaplin knew the importance in the message he was conveying to his audience at the time and took special care in writing his first dialoged script for the film The Great Dictator. The film as a whole finds the balance between comedy and drama to help disguise the serious message to achieve peace in humanity.
Chaplin delivers a powerful speech as a character purposely resembling Hitler in look and form, only Chaplin’s message is to save humanity not conform it to his will. “When Chaplin was writing The Great Dictator in 1939, he was as famous as Hitler and when in character as the Tramp wore the same mustache. Seeking to make a political statement with humor, Chaplin conceived and played a dual role in the movie” (Dixon, Kathryn) The message is simple, peace on earth can be achieved if humans stop giving into the evils of the world and follow the goodness in their hearts.
Charlie Chaplin is a Hollywood legend who had a film career that granted him worldwide fame during and lasting well beyond his death. Though his forte was slapstick comedy his confidence came through loud and clear when Chaplin decided to make a talking film. His audience would still get the expected comedy with his politically shaped film, but he also wanted to be taken seriously since he was engaging with such a serious topic as war. The only reason Chaplin was able to bring this politically charged film to life is because he was his own production company and answered to no one but himself. All his previous comedy films had given him enough fame to be able to express his true feelings and ambitions to the world crumbling around him in 1939. Chaplin would finish the film in six months resting most of the plot on the satire of war and the need for peace.
Not all would see the positive message Chaplin was trying to deliver to the world and feared the impression he was presenting to the fragile world at war. Proving there is negativity and fear even when the intent is peace through positivity. They fear was that even though Chaplin was speaking for democracy and liberty that he was secretly spreading a message of socialism with communist characteristics. Showing how simple fear can distort a simple message. [federal government] feared the effect his films would have “upon the minds of the people of this country” (Ross pg.11) if the world’s most famous comedian became an outspoken advocate for radical causes. They had good reason to be concerned. Fear is the alkalis heel of humanity and is what motivated Chaplin to write the concluding speech of The Great Dictator. The state of fear that the world was sinking into made the speech even more impactful since it was standing up to the fear and evils of the world.
Chaplin had always seen the darkness in the world from growing up without parents and living in poverty he knew he wanted to bring a brightness to the world with his talent and ambition. He had gained the worlds trust with the laughter and comfort with his silent slapstick comedy, but The Great Dictator was the serious slapstick in the face the world needed. “His prescience had captured the mood of the Allied West: when he had begun work on the film, the UK signaled its intention to prohibit its release, owing to the then Government policy of appeasement or rapprochement with Nazi Germany by the time of its release of course, in 1941, Britain had been at war with Hitler for nearly two years it was exactly the film the world wanted to see.” ( Dutton, Julian) He knew his message would be broadcasted around the world to an audience ready to hear the voice and ideas of the silent comedian. Not fully aware of just how evil and inhuman the war would turn out to be Chapin intuition knew he needed to take a stance against a world that could allow such heinous crimes.
The overall message of the film is made clear by the end speech and specifically breaking it down you can see the true person who wrote and delivers the speech, not an actor or director you see the real Charlie Chaplin. The speech shows his emotion and logical approach to dealing with humanities fear and how to conquer and change the world for the betterment of all men who will ever have to live in fear again.
Chaplin makes himself known in the speech and it holds a strong ethos sense throughout the entire speech. He wants to show his own humanity to his audience. The ethos that gives evidence that we are all just humans famous or not, rich or poor all men are equal and should be treated as such allowing the goodness of humanity to overpower all evils. In the speech he also quotes a scripter to show his godliness and religious appeal to his audience. “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!” (Charlie Chaplin) Giving a religious connection is a staple to making humanity peaceful and equal. He holds his confidence high during the speech knowing the vast range of his audience in age, race, and gender. He wanted the world to know his true self and how important humanity is to him in not only his career but in his life.
Emotionally it is easy to see his passion, but the speech builds from a calm expression into a powerful passion for peace. His voice builds as the camera pans out on him to show the energy in his body bursting from his hands and passionate eyes. He makes a connection with his audience emotionally which gives his message even more power and sincerity. The passion he expresses emanates from him to the audience and make a connection and to show the people of the world he is just like them, a person who wants peace in the world but that peace can only come from uniting humanity.
Chaplin narrows down humanity to its greatest feats and how the need for war only cripples the planet by the divisions it creates. “The aero-plane 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.” (Charlie Chaplin) Collectively humanity eventually feeds off each other’s advancements and achievements, but the separation and boundaries placed on humanity only hinder the true capability of achieving global greatness. To deprive a man of that most civilizing factor in human society—speech—seems to me unscientific” (Chaplin, Charlie, and Lisa Stein Haven) The examples of how humans can achieve greatness by working together and standing up for what they believe in, is how the world could be an even bigger more advanced place if we did not allow boarders to separate us from each other and create bias against one another the need for war would not exists.
Human nature needs to be guided and shown positive aspect in order to thrive, otherwise evils will slip in and try and control through negativity and fear. People need to be give a chance to correct their behavior and see that fighting is not always the best or only option. Working together humans can create a beautiful world. Charlie Chaplin saw the goodness in humanity and wanted to shine light on a dark time, not only through comedy but through reason and example. The Great Dictator delivers a message that speaks to the people who make up the world, holding no bias or discrimination Chaplin wants his audience to feel equal and united proving that goodness can be basic human nature in creating a better beautiful world.
Chaplin, Charlie, and Lisa Stein Haven. A Comedian Sees the World. [Place of publication not identified]: University of Missouri, 2014. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 10, 2017).
This resource is important because its Chaplin himself writing and speaking on his ideas and beliefs. Thoughts taken while he travels the world in 1931-1932 and how he views the world around him even under all his fame. He wanted to make sure he was seen as a person and not just a comedian. It’s important to show his popularity around the world and how his influence can be shown around the world. Getting direct quotes from him is better than any type of second resource from observers of his actions. A pure point of view from someone so important at the time
Dixon, Kathryn. Charlie Chaplin. Cary, North Carolina: TAJ Books International, 2013. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 10, 2017).
When Chaplin was writing The Great Dictator in 1939, he was as famous as Hitler and when in character as the Tramp wore the same mustache. Seeking to make a political statement with humor, Chaplin conceived and played a dual role in the movie: a Jewish barber in an anti-Semitic country and a dictator who seeks decimation of all Jews and creation of an Aryan state. The two men resemble each other, and the barber, confused with the dictator, finds he must address the nation. “Speaking in Chaplin’s own words,” the barber gives a humanitarian speech that is obviously a heartfelt rebuttal to the evil perpetrated by Hitler.
Dutton, Julian. Keeping Quiet : Visual Comedy in the Age of Sound. Luton: Andrews UK, 2015. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 10, 2017).
This source shows that not all parts of Hollywood would agree with Chaplin’s point of view and how production studios and the government wanted the film world and the real world to stay separate from one another. only Charlie was his own production studio meaning he did not have to answer to anyone but himself when it came to what he wanted to create. his long career and hard work had paid off in getting his true message out to eh world.
Ross, Steven Joseph. Hollywood Left and Right : How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 24, 2017).
Showing the world that Chaplin was presenting this idea to is an important connection to make since movie stars at the time were not big advocates for humanity but were seen as more of a contracted works who needed to stay within term of their contract with movie studios and keeping their voice quite to allow a profitable career. But since Chaplin owned his own studio he didn’t have to answer to any one and is the main reason why and how he was able to make a film like the Great Dictator
“The Final Speech from The Great Dictator.” Charlie Chaplin : The Final Speech from The Great Dictator, http://www.charliechaplin.com/en/articles/29-The-Final-Speech-from-The-Great-Dictator-.
the speech itself shows the purest form of the message he is trying to deliver throughout the whole movie. there is no comedy no light heartiness just pure passion and drive from Chaplin and his final speech. he builds from a calm demeanor into a passion pistol and fires at humanity with all he has!