Apr 6, 2011

Charlie's got something to say

Yesterday I saw Night and Fog and finally rewatched Schindler's List (I swear watching that film didn't hurt so damn much last time... I'm getting old and wimpy), so I thought I'd continue with the same theme today, only the tone would be slightly lighter. Because there's a line in how much my poor heart can take at a time. During this past year or so I've seen pretty much every Charlie Chaplin classic, but somehow I kept postponing watching The Great Dictator. Maybe I was afraid that hearing the Tramp talk (although, yeah, he's not officially The Tramp, even if the costume is the same) would break the magic and ruin the character for me.

But sure, it didn't. Admittedly, it WAS weird. Most times the film didn't feel like the old school Chaplin I so much love, but that wasn't the point. In a way, The Great Dictator is the most important film Chaplin ever made. I know I'm not the only one who'd give a lot to see what Hitler's face looked like when he saw this. (Reportedly, he watched it twice in a row...)

The little Jewish Barber doesn't talk much (which is good. Charlie has a very nice and pleasant voice, but he does best without it) until the very end, when he steps up to give the famous speech. The moment he starts speaking his voice changes and so does his presence, and we are to understand that the character has been dropped; now we see only Chaplin, reminding people everywhere of the importance of humanity. Still today, there are certainly a sadly large number of people idiots walking around, who should stop to listen what old Charlie has got to say and take the message to the heart (if they happen to have one).

"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."

Preach, Charles. You said it.


Anonymous said...

Amen! And yes, that is definitely Charlie, not a character. He represents every man and at the end we find out why...

It is because he is human. He didn't want to preach but everything ends with him shouting and people cheering, so he did, after all ^_^.

But that doesn't wipe away anything he just said. They're all true, every idea and every happy thought he said.
They are just so darned hard to accomplish within human nature. Men are free but man is so easily seduced by power.

As I watched the whole clip, I once again understood what a great film 'The Great Dictator" is! Cheers~!

Eeva said...

Indeed! ^^

Chaplin often speaks out about faults in human nature and the society, but usually more implicitly, via comedy. I think the speech in Dictator is the only time he's this direct, not using metaphores or other tricks, he just says what needs to be said and it of course suits the purpose!

Go, Charlie! There should be more films like this...