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10 Great Seconds – The Double Cross

April 19, 2012

This is Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator. Doesn’t get much better than this sequence in this film.

Chaplin plays two characters in the movie, a Jewish barber in Tomania (a fictional Germany), and Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania/Germany. Supposedly, a friend noted how Chaplin’s Tramp and Hitler looked alike (especially with the moustache), and this film grew from that. It was begun when Germany wasn’t yet seen as an oppressor by most people, and Chaplin was discouraged by a lot of people from making the film. He financed it himself and went ahead with it, and by the time it was released, it was a huge success.

One of my favorite bits in the film (other than the clip below) is that Hynkel leads the “Double Cross” party, whose symbol greatly resembles the Nazi swastika, made out of two crosses (double-cross, get it?).

This scene is Hynkel doing the “globe ballet” – he dances with a balloon of the world. It’s as beautiful as anything ever put on film – ten seconds doesn’t really do it justice, and it was so difficult to choose a clip from the scene that small, but here’s trying:

It’s so beautiful and child-like. While Chaplin was lampooning Hitler, he also allows him a soul. The scene ends when the balloon blows up in his face, and Hynkel breaks down. If you haven’t seen it (and I haven’t for a while) you should check it out.

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