An Exploration Of The Great Dictator

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Running head: AN EXPLORATION OF THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) 1 AN EXPLORATION OF THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) 2 An Exploration of Charlie Chaplin 's Influences, Symbolism, and Use of Sound in The Great Dictator (1940) Vincent G. Foisy Cleveland State University. An Exploration of Charlie Chaplin?s Influences, Symbolism, and Use of Sound in The Great Dictator (1940) In the early 1900?s, Charlie Chaplin became one of the most famous filmmakers in American history. His clumsy portrayal of The Little Tramp in many silent pictures led to him becoming a household name by 1917; his vast writing and directing career was just getting started. By the 1930?s, sound had taken over the silver screen; however, Chaplin refused to…show more content…
By this time, Chaplin, a vocally political anti-fascist, had expressed his dislike for Germany?s Fuhrer and had been working on The Great Dictator since 1937 (Cole, 2001). Despite this, Chaplin was pressured ?either to render the images and message of his film inoffensive to Hitler and Mussolini, which meant eliminating any anti-fascist propaganda element, or else to drop the project altogether? from the start of his work on the film (Cole, 2001). Until this point in time, the American cinema had ignored Hitler?s presence and actions, as propaganda films were still slightly looked down upon, due to their misuse during World War I (Cole, 2001). Perhaps another reason for Chaplin?s public dislike of Hitler, was that his wife at the time, Paulette Goddard, was herself Jewish (Brownlow & Kloft, 2002). In the film itself, Chaplin shows many events that reflect the reality of late 1930?s Germany including most prominently the treatment of the Jewish people through representations of anti-semitic graffiti and an event reminiscent of Kristallnacht. In the early scenes of the Jewish ghetto, the windows all have painted graffiti reading "Jew" (Sherman, 2002). During the beginning of Jewish persecution in Germany, it was not uncommon for Nazis and Nazi sympathizers to paint anti-semitic texts on to the windows of Jewish-owned shops and homes. Through enormous set pieces, innovative camera work, and great attention to detail, Chaplin was
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