“The Great Dictator” -1940: Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin


TCM aired the film “The Great Dictator” this evening.   I had seen the film before, but years ago.   I gained a different understanding of it, as I watched tonight, I could not help but make a comparison of that era to our own era today of world political and military chaos.  The concept of imposing democracy around the world today and then seems to be against the very meaning of the word “democracy”.

Watching Chaplin’s satirical parody attack of Adolf Hitler “Hynkle” and listening to the script of the representation of  “Tomania” and “Osterlich” made me see more clearly that the root of world view attitudes now are not much different from the attitudes of world view in the late 30’s.The Great DictatorThe Great Dictator

Adenoid Hinkle

I found an interesting quote from Time Magazine:August 7, 1939 citing the film as –“the most-discussed, most-feared-for, most-looked-for picture of 1940. The Great Dictator, written, produced, directed and acted by Charles Spencer Chaplin.”   This quote alone shows that the film was highly controversial, as was Chaplin himself, but truly genius in his art.  If you haven’t seen this film, I recommend it, as it is a truly comedic look at this time in our history.

I want to give “half apologies” for the lengthy text reprinted here of Hynkle’s closing address to the people and troops of Tomania..[video/audio excerpt is located here] .. but I feel it is relevant today and truly worth reading.  It was only known after Chaplin’s passing when Chaplin’s son has stated that Chaplin was deeply disturbed by Hitler’s oppression and murder, and “opened his heart” in this part of the closing script.  Chaplin was misunderstood by many Americans at the time and thought him to be a communist sympathizer, but he was far from it.  In this, the first of his full-talkie films, the bitter-sweet soul of Chaplin comes into view…

Adenoid Hynkle

Adenoid Hynkle

Adenoid Hynkle to the citizens / soldiers of Tomania

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’s 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 seventeenth chapter of Saint 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 you the future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their 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!!!

…and to Hannah he says:

Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality.  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. Look up, Hannah. Look up.

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About PlanetPrisoner

Christian, Patriot, Father, MacGyver, Pilot, Architect, Entrepreneur
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One Response to “The Great Dictator” -1940: Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin

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