michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,

Chaplin and Hitler

I watched a documentary on Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" last night. This as an extraordinary case of art attempting to challenge politics. In this case the politics was embodied in "the greatest actor the world has ever seen". These were Chaplin's words about Adolf Hitler. So there are huge paradoxes here. Shakespeare was indeed on the ball when he wrote: "All the World's a Stage and we are merely players." But Chaplin was able through art to undermine the cynical, destructive artistry of this greatest world actor. Through tragic comedy, Chaplin mimicked some of the worst excesses of Hitler and Mussolini turning their heroics into their opposite. It is known that Hitler himself actually watched and enjoyed himself being mercilessly sent up by Chaplin... but this, tragically, did not stop him in his tracks. But the film "The Great Dictator" is a fabulous illustration of the role that art/ literature/ drama has to play in the contemporary world which is so full of deception and dishonest rhetoric.
Try to see it if you get a chance.

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