When "Charlie Chaplin Gets Auto-Tuned" found its way into my Twitter stream (via Vulture) earlier today, I rolled my eyes and replied that I was afraid to click on the link. Because who wants to see that, really? Was this just another viral attempt to crack a few jokes at the expense of one of the most iconic Hollywood stars of all time? Hey, look, it's Charlie Chaplin imitating will.i.am -- how corny and cute and shareable is that!
Finally, I clicked (because I click on everything), and what I found was actually pretty cool. It's Chaplin's famous anti-fascist speech from The Great Dictator, except it's been played around with (yes, with auto-tuning) in a way that makes it an oddly compelling watch. The speech on its own is one of my favorite movie speeches of all time, but it's also one that isn't dated. It's just as meaningful, inspiring and enlightening now as it was back in 1940, when it was released as Chaplin's first all-talking, all-sound picture. Chaplin financed the entire film himself, and it was his biggest box office hit, grossing around $5 million.
A tiny bit of trivia: Adolf Hitler banned The Great Dictator from Germany, but curiosity eventually got the best of him and he snuck a copy into the country. He wound up watching it twice, but no one knows what he thought of it. Chaplin was one of his all-time favorite actors, and after learning Hitler watched the movie he said he'd give anything to know what he thought of it.
Hey, if anything maybe this will get kids to discover The Great Dictator, and then Chaplin. If so, start here: Watch The Great Dictator in its entirety on YouTube. After, read this: Chaplin's The Gold Rush Is One of the Richest Films Ever Made, by David Ehrlich.
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