The following is a clip from the end of Charlie Chaplin’s The Dictator, in which he played a poor Jewish barber who is mistaken for being somebody else and he finds himself pushed into the position of a dictator. Chaplin rejects this for the virtues of freedom and democracy in a passionate speech at the end of the film.
Considered to be one of the greatest speeches in history, it spoke into the times when it was made, as a parody of Hitler, and to us in modernity.
Read the questions on the right before watching the video. Then answer the questions before checking your answers.
1. To be an emperor / rule the world.
2. We should live by each other's happiness (not each other's misery).
4. Knowledge ahs made people cynical.
5. a) Kindness b) Gentleness.
6. Soldiers should not give themselves to brutes.
7. a) cattle b) men.
9. (St) Luke Chapter 17
10. a) to create machines b) create happiness c) make life free and beautiful d) make this life a wonderful adventure.
11. a) Youth - a future b) The old - security.
12. a) Free themselves b) Enslave the people.
Now you have completed the listening exercise check new vocabulary before completing the speaking exercises. The transcript of the speech is available here.
© 2016, Richard Horton Omega Support Services
Instructions – Watch the video. As with all TEFL exercises the video should only be watched TWICE. Check your answers when you have completed the exercise.
- What does Charlie Chaplin’s dictator not want to do?
- How does he believe people should live?
- What has poisoned men’s souls?
- What has been the effect knowledge has had on people?
- What do we need more than cleverness? (2 Answers)
- What shouldn’t soldiers do?
- Complete the following: ‘You are not machines! You are not _______! You are ________
- Soldiers should not fight for slavery, but for what?
- Which book and Chapter of The Bible is quoted?
- What do men have the power to do? (4 Answers)
- Democracy will deliver what for the youth and what for the old? (2 Answers)
- What two things do dictators do? (2 Answers)
Follow up and Speaking
Now discuss the following questions that are based on themes from the speech, using the transcript if necessary.
- Early in the speech greed is identified as the central problem of humanity. How does greed do this and what other factors cause humanity problems?
- ‘We think too much and we feel too little’. What is meant by this statement and how far do you agree with it?
- Is technology (he mentions aeroplanes and the radio) something that unites or divides people?
- The speech is very optimistic about the power of democracy. Do you share the same optimism? Why (not)?
- Would a ‘a world of reason’, where science and progress are central, lead to happiness as the speech promises? Why (not)?