I saw the Great Dictator many year's ago and filed away the memory. Now i am struck by how much of what Chaplin says accords with how i see the world. Not so much his appeal to "science and progress," but his talk of kindness, care and love strikes deep into my heart. When he says, "Only the unloved hate," i was powerfully reminded of Alice Miller’s words (from Thou Shalt Not Be Aware):
Children who are respected learn respect. Children who are cared for learn to care for those weaker than themselves. Children who are loved for what they are cannot learn intolerance. In an environment such as this they will develop their own ideals, which can be nothing other than humane, since they grow out of the experience of love.These words and all of Alice Miller's work have had a huge impact on me. This short quote is a kind of manifesto to me - one that i both hear and see echoed in Chaplin's speech. The tone of fearful desperation that he strikes, the weary urgency that you see in his hand dragging through his hair as the speech begins all makes me wonder just how much he was acting. His appeal to soldiers not to "give [them]selves to brutes," is an appeal to all children who, being twisted out of shape by violence and neglect, must choose either to resist or collude. The constraint on these choices from the brutality of our society that creates the conditions for such violence and neglect (with the inexorable and heartbreaking pattern of abused children becoming adults who, in turn, abuse children) is immense. I am reading In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
V in V for for Vendetta. A post-apocalyptic call to action that should perhaps be heeded even now.
Finally, another speech i am reminded of (and it is no fiction) is that of Salvador Allende prior to his death in the American-backed coup in Chile on that other fateful September 11 date: Salvador Allende's last speech (english translation). You can listen to it with this video. It is an appeal to resist oppression like few i have ever heard.