Charlie Chaplin: “The Kingdom Of God Is Within You”
In this final speech of The Great Dictator, the silent film star, Charlie Chaplin, finally speaks! The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first true talking picture as well as his most commercially successful film.
This concluding speech is considered by many film critics to be one of the most powerful speeches ever recorded on film. In this touching performance, Chaplin, quotes from Luke 17.
The actual verse is Luke 17: 21.
In the NIV version the verse reads : “Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied,’ The kingdom of God does not come from your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’ or “There it is’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.”
Chaplin’s take is the following from the film, “In the 17th chapter of Saint Luke it is written the Kingdom of God in within man, not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you, you the people have the power!”
At the time of its first release, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. Chaplin’s comic film advanced a stirring, controversial condemnation of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini‘s fascism, antisemitism, and the Nazis, whom he excoriates in the film as “machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts”.
According to Jürgen Trimborn’s biography of Nazi propaganda film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, both Chaplin and French film-maker René Clair viewed Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will together at a showing at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Film maker Luis Buñuel reports that Clair was utterly horrified by the effectiveness of the film, crying out that this should never be shown or the West was lost. Chaplin, on the other hand, laughed uproariously at the film. It provided many elements of The Great Dictator, and it was repeated viewings of Will that allowed Chaplin to so closely mimic Hitler’s mannerisms. It is suspected Chaplin’s decision to go ahead with making The Great Dictator was finalized by his viewing of Riefenstahl’s film.