October 19, 1940 [The Great Dictator, You Nazsty Spy!]

Moe pauses thoughtfully, considers the prospect of leading an imaginary fascist nation, and a bit of stray black paper sticks to his finger, which taps his upper lip, while he runs his other hand through his hair--and the paper sticks, and the hair sweeps back, and the Stooge paperhanger becomes an Austrian one, Schickelgruber to the bone. You Nazsty Spy!, though, was about nine months ago--and Moe Hailstone and Co. were eaten by lions. What a relief.

But Chaplin knows better, and Hynkel rises, sputtering gibberish-German, The Great Dictator paired with his alter-ego, a Jewish barber--both of them talking, without a stop. Because Chaplin has something to say.


But before he does--in a finale that should, if we have anything left inside, leave us all in tears, from the Philippines to Czechoslovakia, from the streets of Laredo (let alone Chungking) to the battered coast of England--Chaplin pauses. And Hynkel tosses the world--"My world," he murmurs, as loving as kind Death--and glides through his global pas de deux, the Lohengrin prelude appalled at itself, our dear planet lifted and caressed, the bastard's fat ass bumping her high.

And no one laughed--but when it was over, and the balloon popped, Chaplin rushes to the Barber and Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5," and shaves his customer in frenzied bliss, everything perfectly timed and merry--such a gift, as Hungary itself slips away from us, Hitler giving it Awards he did not own, tarnished already. And in those two dances--the first an abomination, the second a happy dream--a deep memory, the earliest moments in cinema recalled, barbershops and ease, the customer satisfied, always--Chaplin at last finds his voice, and prepares us for the kind of shameless sentiment and warmth he has always encouraged us to embrace--and we better, the world in bloody tatters, the seams widening, ready to pop.

Comments

  1. The globe scene was recently copied in a Bollywood film...Chaplin ofcourse could see deeper than many politicians...those "hitler" speeches in gibberish German ..I want to see this again...

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