Charlie Chaplin’s Satirical Masterpiece 'The Great Dictator'

His speech still resonates, urging us to work together and use technology as a tool for change

Chaplin took the bold decision to take on Adolf Hitler, the Nazi party and fascism on in his first non- silent film made in 1940, whilst the Nazi party was in power, and with a horrific five years to go until they were defeated.

 

Chaplin brilliantly holds a mirror up to the preposterous nature of greed, hatred and racism. He watched and practiced Hitler’s speeches to mimic his style and then rip it apart. Chaplin plays both a Jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel, the film’s version of Hitler.

 

At its finale, Chaplin delivers a speech as the barber who is in turn disguised as Hynkel. The speech passionately urges the people to work together to rise up against oppression and to use technology as a tool for change. In Chaplin’s time, this meant the radio, in our time we have even more powerful technology at our disposal in the internet. Chaplin may have dreamt that something like this would be possible, a way to create mass movements and protest - connecting us globally. It is in fact our reality.

 

"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.

 

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!"

 

Chaplin made sure that Hitler was personally hand delivered a copy of the film - we will never know if he watched it but you definitely should.