University of Phoenix Comm 212 Week 5 Paper

The Greatest Speech in Cinema:
Charlie Chaplain’s “The Great Dictator”

Richard McAfee
May 11, 2010
Communication 110

A great many speakers and speeches have become popular through the ages, the popularity of each varying between cultures and audiences.   As seems fitting with our culture, I have been moved by movies more often than politicians.   Charlie Chaplain saved his breath for one of his finest roles and for one of the most encompassing, well delivered speeches of cinema history.   “The Great Dictator” was a parody of a Nazi Germany, where a Jewish barber is mistaken for Hitler and has the chance to speak in front of thousands, during which he highlights the beauty of individual freedoms, the threat of dictatorships, and the necessity for mankind to pursue freedom and equality.   Released in the early years of World War II, this four-minute speech was hailed as both the finest of Chaplain’s career, and a personal plea from the actor to the people of the world, - a first in cinema.
The scene begins with Chaplains character sheepishly approaching the podium, humbly accepting a salute from a Nazi officer and, with wide eyes, absorbing the crowd.   The anticipation builds with Chaplain’s silence, skillfully using the pause to gain full attention but seemingly composing himself, giving way to a dramatic introduction: “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor.   That’s not my business.”   The power and artistic expression behind the visual delivery adds weight to the speech.   Chaplain, who for so long relied on scared, surprised, or comedic expressions, offers a new perspective to his well known face: the kind of emotion that is beyond slapstick, and truly touches the individual as something genuine.   This new aspect lends even more personality to his character, and in turn adding to the effectiveness of the scene.   Simply put, it was something people had never seen.
Rousing speeches that encourage fighting tyranny, seeking personal freedom and...