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The Fear of the Talking Picture. On the Futurology of Television in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator

Event Label
Organisational Units
Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Location Address (1)
Schillerplatz 3
Location ZIP and/or City (1)
1010 Vienna
Location Room (1)

Lecture from Sulgi Lie, Art Theory and Cultural Studies.

Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator from 1940 is also his first "real" sound film, which he had refused to make for more than ten years. The lecture attempts to analyze why this late decision to make a sound film has less to do with a renunciation of silent pantomime than with a genuinely political intervention - as an attempt to analyze the audiovisual dimension of fascism with the means of sound film. What Chaplin reveals in The Great Dictator as a new mass medium, without ever making it explicitly diegetically visible, is nothing other than television. In examining the two major speeches in the film - the speech of the dictator Adenoid Hynkel and the final speech of the Jewish barber - it will be shown that both times they are structurally television speeches, long before television was able to establish itself in mass culture in the early 1950s: In the medium of a belated sound film, The Great Dictator analyzes the coming television as an apparatus of political rule.