Ed Driscoll

Charlie Got His Gun

Over at Pajamas HQ, Ron Rosenbaum buries a new Germany comedy–two words you rarely see combined–about Hitler that attempts to ignore centuries of cultural anti-Semitism by depicting Der Fuhrer as “a bedwetting drug addict who is making the world suffer for his beatings as a child”, according to Der Spiegel. (Which sounds like a variation on John Cusack’s 2002 Max, which explained away Nazi Germany’s collective atrocities by suggesting if only young Hitler had been more appreciated as an artist…)

Rosenbaum makes some perceptive observations about a much older comedy about Hitler, as well:

And speaking of trivializing, there is no more trivializing, over-rated, treatment of Hitler than Chaplin’s dimwitted, laboriously unfunny Great Dictator. Yes Chaplin made some funny movies, but when he tried his hands at politics Chaplin made a movie that did nothing but help Hitler because he made him seem like an unthreatening clown just at a time, 1940, when the world needed to take Hitler’s threat seriously.Yet Chaplin’s film makes it seem like Hitler was nothing but a harmless fool (like Chaplin, same mustache and all). And he made it at a time, during the Nazi-Soviet pact, when the world most needed to mobilize against Hitler’s threat. And yet Chaplin, to his eternal shame ended the film not with a call to oppose fascism, and its murderous hatred, but rather—because he was following the shameful Hitler-friendly Soviet line at the time—ended his film with a call for all workers in the world to lay down their arms—in other words to refuse to join the fight against fascism and Hitler.

He wasn’t the only prominent Hollywood figure to do so during this period, of course.

Update: Blinkered Thinker has some decidedly unblinkered thoughts on The Great Dictator.