Charlie Chaplin Wrote The Greatest Speech Of All Time The worlds greatest speech wasn’t made by a politician, leader, dictator or philosopher. It was written by comic actor Charlie Chaplin, 74 years ago.
Titled ‘The Great Dictator’ it was spoken by Charlie Chaplin in his film of the same name, today it remains one of the most rousing and poignant speeches on film.
We think too much and feel too little. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
The film was released in 1940, as an antI-Nazi comedy and was entirely written, produced and directed by Charlie Chaplin himself.
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 all 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 is room for everyone and the 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 [now] liberty will never perish…
Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and 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 as cattle, 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. Only 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, the people.
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s 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 and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, 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!
Here is more about Charlie Chaplin, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Chaplin arrived in Los Angeles, home of the Keystone studio, in early December 1913. The 1940s saw Chaplin face a series of controversies, both in his work and his personal life, which changed his fortunes and severely affected his popularity in America. The first of these was a new boldness in expressing his political beliefs. Deeply disturbed by the surge of militaristic nationalism in 1930s world politics, Chaplin found that he could not keep these issues out of his work: “How could I throw myself into feminine whimsy or think of romance or the problems of love when madness was being stirred up by a hideous grotesque, Adolf Hitler?”
He chose to make The Great Dictator – a “satirical attack on fascism” and his “most overtly political film”. There were strong parallels between Chaplin and the German dictator, having been born four days apart and raised in similar circumstances. It was widely noted that Hitler wore the same toothbrush moustache as the Tramp, and it was this physical resemblance that formed the basis of Chaplin’s story. Chaplin spent two years developing the script and began filming in September 1939. He had submitted to using spoken dialogue, partly out of acceptance that he had no other choice but also because he recognised it as a better method for delivering a political message. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin’s financial independence allowed him to take the risk. “I was determined to go ahead,” he later wrote, “for Hitler must be laughed at.” Chaplin replaced the Tramp (while wearing similar attire) with “A Jewish Barber”, a reference to the Nazi party’s belief that the star was a Jew. In a dual performance he also plays the dictator “Adenoid Hynkel”, a parody of Hitler which Maland sees as revealing the “megalomania, narcissism, compulsion to dominate, and disregard for human life” of the German dictator.
The Great Dictator spent a year in production, and was released in October 1940. There was a vast amount of publicity around the film, with a critic for the New York Times calling it “the most eagerly awaited picture of the year”, and it was one of the biggest money-makers of the era. The response from critics was less enthusiastic. Although most agreed that it was a brave and worthy film, many considered the ending inappropriate. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked straight at the camera and professed his personal beliefs. The monologue drew significant debate for its overt preaching and continues to attract attention to this day. Maland has identified it as triggering Chaplin’s decline in popularity, and writes, “Henceforth, no movie fan would ever be able to separate the dimension of politics from the star image of Charles Spencer Chaplin.” The Great Dictator received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.
Chaplin decided to hold the world premiere of his film Limelight in London, since it was the setting of the film. As he left Los Angeles, Chaplin expressed a premonition that he would not be returning. At New York, he boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth with his family on 18 September 1952. The next day, Attorney General James P. McGranery revoked Chaplin’s re-entry permit and stated that he would have to submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behaviour in order to re-enter the US. US Congressman John E. Rankin of Mississippi told the House in June 1947:
“[Chaplin] has refused to become an American citizen. His very life in Hollywood is detrimental to the moral fabric of America. [If he is deported] … his loathsome pictures can be kept from before the eyes of the American youth. He should be deported and gotten rid of at once.”
What is remarkable about the above is that Chaplin’s speech about fascism in The Great Dictator nearly 75 years ago is as relevant today, if not more relevant, as it was back then. In addition, as Chaplin was demonized for telling the truth back then, administrations worldwide today, like the current White House administration, are relentlessly demonizing and persecuting truth tellers as well, after deceitfully pledging to protect them. It is for these reasons, in an Orwellian age when telling the truth is a revolutionary act, that we must spread “The Greatest Speech Ever” far and wide.