Chaplin’s first talking picture was ahead of its time: a stirring condemnation of Hitler and facism, it was initially banned by the UK government due to the appeasement policy with Nazi Germany, although later became a hit, partly due to its wartime propaganda value.
There were many odd parallels between Chaplin and Hitler: both were born in April 1889, Chaplin’s Tramp character and Hitler had a similar moustache and both struggled in poverty before reaching global fame.
“Their destinies were poles apart. One was to make millions weep, while the other was to set the whole world laughing. Dad could never think of Hitler without a shudder, half of horror, half of fascination.”
The film was bold in its ridicule of Nazism and its depiction of an anti-Semitic authoritarian regime.
Watch this appreciation by The New Yorker’s Richard Brody from earlier this year:
In addition to writing, directing and producing, Chaplin played the titular dictator ‘Adenoid Hynkel’ (a thinly-veiled substitute for Adolf Hitler) and a look-alike Jewish barber persecuted by the regime.
At the climax of the film, the two have swapped positions and Chaplin directly addresses the audience in a speech which denounces facism, greed and intolerance in favour of liberty and human brotherhood.
Incidentally, Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel said last year that he not only finds all these parodies funny but that they actually serve to make a wider point:
“The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.”
Many wikipedia articles have coordinates. Many have references to historic events. Me (@godawful) and Tom Martin (@heychinaski) cross referenced the two to create a dynamic visualization of Wikipedia’s view of world history. Watch as empires fall, wars break out and continents are discovered.
This won “Best Visualization” at Matt Patterson’s History Hackday in January, 2011. To make it, we parsed an xml dump of all wikipedia articles (30Gb) and pulled out 424,000 articles with coordinates and 35,000 references to events. Cross referencing these produced 15,500 events with locations. Then we mapped them over time.