Chaplin played his first role in a true talking movie in a comedy movie first released in October 1940.
Chaplin’s powerful, final speech at the end of this movie was prefaced with the word “HOPE,” something that was much-needed in the world at that time in history, as well as today.
The movie was The Great Dictator, which Chaplin wrote, produced, directed; and in which he played not one, but two star characters who had strikingly similar appearances.
In his first true talking movie, Chaplin did not play his usual part as The Tramp, but instead played the part of a Jewish barber and the part of a dictator who looked like Adolf Hitler.
Near the end of the movie, subsequent to a series of mishaps, the look-alike Jewish barber replaced the dictator, and the barber was taken to the Capitol where he was asked to give a speech as the future Emperor of the World.
When the Jewish barber–as the future Emperor of the World–was reluctant to speak, the General at his side told him he must speak. The barber responded, “I can’t;” to which the General replied, ”You must– it’s our only hope.”
The bewildered Jewish barber, as if talking to himself, questioningly and quietly whispered, “HOPE?” Then, he slowly made his way to the platform, in front of the microphone, and there he delivered the powerful final speech of The Great Dictator.
The Jewish barber, the look-alike, future Emperor of the World, ended his speech with these words:
“The soul of man has been given wings and at last is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow. Into the light of hope! Into the future! The glorious future! That belongs to you, to me, and to all of us.”…
As you listen to the YouTube video below, I hope this speech will stir you, as it did me.
The words of Chaplin’s speech are as relevant in today’s world as they were over seventy years ago when Chaplin wrote them. What a powerful challenge of hope for today for the entire world!
Note: In 1997, the Library of Congress selected The Great Dictator for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It was selected and preserved for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
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