The great Dictator has Hope~!

Chaplin

I have a secret love affair with a man, ever since I was a child. It’s strictly platonic and very one-sided. He never knew me, but I know almost everything about him.

His name is Charlie Chaplin. The older ones here will remember him well; we all watched his black and white movies when we were young. Laughed and cried with him, fell in love with the different characters he played.

He had a vision and shows it in so many movies and short films. I didn’t understand it all when I was young; still try to understand some of it today. I just loved the way he made me laugh, the way he made me think.

In 1938, one year before World War II started, Chaplin decided to make a movie about the German dictator Hitler. The tortures and pain that this dictator would cause to so many Jewish people and others were unknown then. America and the rest of the world were still at peace with Germany.

This is the story in short form:

A Jewish barber saves the life of a wounded pilot, Schultz, but loses his own memory through concussion. Fast-forward twenty years, and the barber escapes from his care-home to return to the ghetto, now governed by storm-troopers reporting to Schultz, who has been promoted in the Tomainian regime under the ruthless dictator Adenoid Hynkel (Hitler), who looks like an identical twin of the barber (both played by Chaplin).

As Hynkel orders a purge of the Jews, Schultz protests about this new policy, and is jailed. He escapes to hide in the ghetto with the barber and his girlfriend Hannah. Stormtroopers search the ghetto, arresting Schultz and the barber, while Hannah and her family escape to freedom in Osterlich (Austria). But after a failed attempt to ally with Napaloni (Mussolini), Hynkel invades Osterlich. The Jewish family are trapped under his regime.

Escaping from the camp in stolen uniforms, Schultz and the barber, dressed as Hynkel, arrive at the Osterlich frontier, where a huge parade is waiting to be addressed by Hynkel. He had been mistaken for the barber while out duck-shooting in civilian clothes, and was arrested. Schultz tells the barber to go up to the platform and pretend to be Hynkel, as the only way to save their lives.

The terrified barber mounts the steps, but is inspired to seize the initiative. Announcing that he (apparently Hynkel) has had a change of heart, he makes an impassioned plea for brotherhood and goodwill. He addresses a message of hope to Hannah, in case she can hear him. Working as a slave-labourer, she is astonished to hear the broadcast: “Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow — into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us.” (Source Wikipidia)

The speech at the end of the movie is one of the greatest speeches ever written. 75 years later, it’s still as good as it has been then. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Great Dictator’s 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 fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil 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!


This is my own entry to this weeks “Knock, Knock writing challenge Week #5”

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12 thoughts on “The great Dictator has Hope~!

  1. 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. If you changed the words here to internet and a few other inventions, this speech is so relevant today. Great post.

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    • Every year in the summer time I have kids in my work room. They help, they bother, they drive me nuts…but it seems I am the place to go to. Not sure if it’s me or the dogs and I won’t dare asking. This year I let them listen to the speech and the reaction from the older ones were stunning. Right now at this time Charlie Chaplin’s speech fits as it has 70 years ago.

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        • Judy (may I call you Judy) I was very surprised. They asked so many questions and I stunned by the logic behind it. They had never heard of Chaplin, neither have they heard of the movie. The older ones (13+12) who spend the summer in my workshop since years, identified with the speech. They talked about racism and greed. Thank you for asking.

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          • When they ask questions it is the greatest compliment and biggest excitement! It was the thing I liked best about teaching–that turning on of interest. I really loved working with kids and still do. I just never figured out how to teach and have the rest of a life as well.

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  2. Pingback: Knock, knock writing challenge~! Week #5 | The happy Quitter!

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