The Great Dictator
To close out the week here, I read about the first international and domestic star of the screen, the uncanny Charlie Chaplin. The things Chaplin did for the genre of comedy while addressing social inequity was pretty amazing to read about. A shame, since most people only know how Tramp character, and not about his long career and, later, the injustice done to him when he was basically pushed out of the U.S. due to that ridiculous McCarthyism.
While I read mostly on his work about the silent era, I know how important his later features were, so my dude and I watched The Great Dictator. Freaking Genius. I was incredibly moved, especially watching that last scene where Chaplin, a Jewish barber, is mistaken for Not-Hitler, and is forced to make a speech after invading Not-Poland. It is absolutely amazing how much we did know as a country as far as the atrocities going on in Germany. It saddens and amazes me to know how much we knew about the rise of Hitler in 1940. The history lessons I’ve taken as a kid played the U.S. as this neutral place where we had no idea how ruthless the Nazis were, but the film really shows what kind of information was out there.
And it shows bravery. Not that the U.S. showed cowardice toward an evil dictator, but the fact that Hollywood was not using the powerful medium of film to educate the masses. But Chaplin did. And the writing in this is simple, yet there are some key points of dialogue calling for peace, and calling out the fact that people were being abused, bullied, kidnapped, and contained by the SS, led by a paranoid, power-hungry, narcissistic tyrant.