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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » So I had never heard Charlie Chaplin speak before...

   
Author Topic: So I had never heard Charlie Chaplin speak before...
Raymond Arnold
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Until now. Holy crap.
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AchillesHeel
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I've heard the speech, but I didn't know it was Charlie. Wax Tailor used the first half for a song.
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Raymond Arnold
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The real kicker is that apparently, Charlie Chaplin's greatest role WAS in fact playing Hitler. (In a sort of Prince and the Pauper way).
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rivka
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But that speech is not Hitler, it's the look-alike.

I prefer actually being able to see Chaplin, as well as hear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcvjoWOwnn4&feature=related

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Raymond Arnold
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(I did specify "Prince and the Pauper sort of way"). He plays both, and I'd say that the awesomeness of the actual main role was contingent on his also playing the Hitler-representative.
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Vadon
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The movie as a whole is pretty good as well. The Great Dictator. I think it's available to watch on Hulu.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
The movie as a whole is pretty good as well.

Yup. We watched it in my American cinema class.
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Raymond Arnold
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The other day I was in some cafe playing a Charlie Chaplin movie (which DID involve German soldiers, although I'm pretty sure they were world war I) and I was amazed at how well done it was. I had mentally segregated movies that old into a "probably good at the time but wouldn't hold up today" category, but I was laughing pretty much the whole time I was watching.
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Raymond Arnold
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(btw, only available on hulu plus)
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Dan_Frank
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That speech is fantastic.

The only thing I object to in the video you posted is... the video you posted!

The visuals, more specifically. Using footage primarily of US military when, in the context of the film, Chaplin is talking about Nazis is pretty freaking insulting. In general the visuals seem to have a very strong anti-progress vibe (Ghandi > Einstein? Really?) to me, and I don't get that from Chaplin's words at all.

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Bella Bee
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quote:
The visuals, more specifically.
Much as I love Doctor Who to tiny little bits, I thought the shot of the Cybermen was kind of distracting and weird in that context.
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think the video clips were meant to correspond too specifically to what was going on. Quite honestly, I think they were cobbled together by an amateur who understood the broad strokes of editing for emotional impact, but wasn't making any effort to ensure a coherent narrative was being created. (Later in the piece, when the voice over says "dictators rise to power" and it starts showing American presidents, I do not think it was intending to say that American presidents are dictators).

I think the original speech is technically better if you read too much into the video, but I was happy to accept the video for what it was and experience the emotional arc without analyzing it too closely. I really like the section where the camera's zooming in on Chaplin's face and then cuts to an eye and eventually to Vitruvian Man. I also thought the music was quite good, and added to the intensity of the speech.

quote:
Much as I love Doctor Who to tiny little bits, I thought the shot of the Cybermen was kind of distracting and weird in that context.
An interesting (but I believe unintentional) side effect of cobbling this together from random pop culture images is that it sort of reinforces Chaplin's point about the democratization aspect of modern media. I agree that a lot of parts are cheesy, but I kinda like how it feels more cross-sectional of all media rather than a specific style.
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Teshi
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quote:
The visuals, more specifically. Using footage primarily of US military when, in the context of the film, Chaplin is talking about Nazis is pretty freaking insulting. In general the visuals seem to have a very strong anti-progress vibe (Ghandi > Einstein? Really?) to me, and I don't get that from Chaplin's words at all.
There is a caution about too much "machinery and cleverness" in the speech, though, which could be interpreted as being anti-science, and a few people regard Einstein as being behind the atomic bomb, for example. However, the end of the speech does say to use science for good but it would be easy to miss that.

This is just one speech made many years ago and I do not think it is fair to expect it to represent the whole of our thinking nowadays.

That said, it is an excellent speech. And yes, Charlie Chaplin films (along with many old films) are excellent. I don't really understand the "old movies are not as good" attitude. There's a reason we're still talking about themn today. There's a wealth of fantastic film in black and white as well as early colour. You can even go to see them really cheap if you live in a big city: some cinemas show them.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I don't think the video clips were meant to correspond too specifically to what was going on. Quite honestly, I think they were cobbled together by an amateur who understood the broad strokes of editing for emotional impact, but wasn't making any effort to ensure a coherent narrative was being created. (Later in the piece, when the voice over says "dictators rise to power" and it starts showing American presidents, I do not think it was intending to say that American presidents are dictators).

That's fair. I do sort of assume that the guy who cut the visuals was intending to say that, or something like it. But I'd be happy to be wrong!
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
I don't really understand the "old movies are not as good" attitude. There's a reason we're still talking about themn today.
Well, honestly, most older movies I've seen have NOT held up. It's not just a matter of newer, flashier graphics - the way modern scripts and writing work is noticeably different.
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Tarrsk
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Different, but not necessarily inferior. Enjoying older movies often requires that you be able to put yourself in their cultural and historical context. Sort of like how understanding Shakespeare demands that you put in some time to learn the language and cultural references of the late 1500s. Or, for a more recent example, how "Star Trek: The Next Generation" can seem rather horrendously dated unless you consciously recall what it was like to live in the late 80s.
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Dogbreath
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Not all of us *can* recall the 80s. I've seen pictures, though, and it looks like everyone in the world of fashion up and lost their mind for ten years.
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Juxtapose
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I find that anytime I'm consuming media from a culture sufficiently removed from my own that the conceits of that culture become more readily apparent.
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Darth_Mauve
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The American Soldiers were shown when he was talking about Soldiers not fighting for tyrants but for Freedom and Humanity. It showed them loving children and loving animals. I found that a very positive portrayal of our men in uniform.
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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
Not all of us *can* recall the 80s. I've seen pictures, though, and it looks like everyone in the world of fashion up and lost their mind for ten years.

As opposed to the entirely sensible choices made in the seventies? or the nineties for that matter.
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The Rabbit
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The 80s certain had it share of fashion disasters but it also had some great stuff. Check out the sweaters they wore on the Cosby show. The pictures are often misleading. I was a college student in the 80s. What people actually wore was Levi's 501 jeans, t-shirts and if was cold, sweaters.
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Teshi
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
I don't really understand the "old movies are not as good" attitude. There's a reason we're still talking about themn today.
Well, honestly, most older movies I've seen have NOT held up. It's not just a matter of newer, flashier graphics - the way modern scripts and writing work is noticeably different.
As has already been said, "different" does not always mean worse. But I have an advantage: I grew up watching old movies because it was a way that my parents and I could watch the same movies instead of having to watch children's movies.

Adult comedies or thrillers nowadays are often unsuitable for children but we'd settle down to watch the Marx Brothers or The Third Man together and both parents and children would be happy.

As a result, while I am aware of the differences, to me both have their merits. One thing you sometimes have to do with the very, very early films (20s, 30s) is accept a few gaffes and a lower level of continuity. Focus on the actors rather than the production values.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
As opposed to the entirely sensible choices made in the seventies? or the nineties for that matter.

Every decade has it's share of overly eccentric fashion, and yet I can look at them (seventies, nineties, even the twenties) and still appreciate the aesthetics thereof, even if I would never actually wear something that silly. The eighties, on the other hand, seemed to have lots of extra ugly and frumpy added to the already strange costumes.

(I fully realize the irony of me saying this, belonging to to an organization that derives it's idea of "proper civilian attire" and haircuts from the fashion of the late 40s)

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Tim_Ferno
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Well, that sure was something. I've never heard that speech, but it almost brought a tear to my eye. 1940 was a good year, it seems.

The whole tyrants rise to power thing, I was picturing Stalin. The video wasn't great (as someone else said, amateure), but the speech stands on it's own. Thanks for sharing.

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Dobbie
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Actually the point of that speech is that 1940 was a bad year.
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Dobbie
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JLTV is showing The Great Dictator tonight (Saturday) at 5, 8, and 11, and I think they're showing it at least once overnight.
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