Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Chaplin

A Message to Humanity: Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech, Remixed

From the same remix artist who brought us yesterday’s Alan Watts meditation on the meaningful life comes “A Message for all of Humanity”

A mash up of Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from The Great Dictator and scenes of humanity’s most tragic and most hopeful moments in recent history, spanning everything from space exploration to the Occupy protests, with an appropriately epic score by Hans Zimmer.

 posted this Nov. 30, 2013

“We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.

I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another.

Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.

We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone.

And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.

Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little.

More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aero-plane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now, my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.” The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.

The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel!

Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!

You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you!

You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness!

You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.

By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves and they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise!

Let us fight to free the world!

To do away with national barriers!

To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

How to gain a friend? What Charlie Chaplin said?

Charlie Chaplin once wrote:

“I have forgiven unpardonable errors. I tried to replace capable people and forget unforgettable people. I acted on impulse. I was deceived by people whom I knew were not capable, but I also deceived people.

I held someone in my arms to protect him. I laughed when I shouldn’t have. I gathered around me eternal friends. I loved and was reciprocated. I was loved, but failed to love in return. I lived of love and made eternal promises, but I broke my heart so many times. I cried listening to music and looking at photos. I could call just to listen to a voice. I fell in love by a simple smile. I was scared of losing unique persons…

I did survive. I am alive and kicking. I can’t get enough of life. You too should cling to life. What is really good is to fight, struggling with persuasion, embracing life, and living with passion. You have got to learn to be a classy loser and vanquish by daring. This world belongs to the daring. Life is too much to resume living insignificantly…” End of quote.

I have read many of these saying, somewhere, by someone, and figured out many by my own experience.

You gain a friend when this “friend” is convinced that you are listening seriously to his opinions, his stories of shortcomings…regardless if you are the emotional type or unable to physically extend gesture of compassion and understanding…Genuine laughs, genuine smiles, genuine tears…People are very intelligent in perception: Never underestimate people’s power of good perception…

The best achievement in life is acquiring sustainable friends; a few friends who recognize your limitations and are always genuinely glad when they perceive that you have been overcoming your shortcomings, that you are not the guy to give up, that you are a survival guy, and who are ever ready to extend a helping hand when they see a good try at improving your situation…

Your sustained friends have great respect for your companionship, your strait-forward opinions, and give your friendship priority in time of temporary and normal depressed cycles…

Movable fairs: Beirut (1970-74)

This post reminisces the activities in Beirut during the period 1970-1974. As a university student, I had the time and leisure to watch many of the hundreds of movies and attend most of the Lebanese pieces of theaters that were played.

The epic Woodstock musical fiesta of summer 1968 disbanded after three days.  The critical French student revolt in Paris of 1968 ended a week later. Spring of 1968 in Paris was a movable fair, an all free-invited party.  It was a movable feast for sharing ideas and desires for justice, peace, liberty, and pleasure.

There were plenty of generosity and compassion:  Youth was feeling bored of the old world system of unjust order, capitalism, petrified ideologies and dogmas.  It was a humongous fair where affluent lifestyle in the western States of plenty hide the miseries of the lowest classes living in shantytowns. It was in a period for the third world struggling to emerge from the slavery stage of colonialism.

The French student revolt of 1968 was a big party with deep lucidity: banners read “Run, comrade, run.  The old world is chasing after you.” Youth was taking a reprieve by running joyously, a week of total freedom, running as fast as he could, knowing that the old world will invariably catch up with him.

Karl Marx said:  ”When history repeats its cycles, the next time around is a farce.”  Spring of 68 was a sympathetic and spontaneous farce: it was an innovating and creative revolt with no arms.

These movements for change crossed to Lebanon in 1969 and lingered for 5 years as movable fairs in Beirut.  

I witnessed that wonderful and crazy period as a university student, witnessing far more than studying.

By 1970, I was mainly taking courses in math, physics, and chemistry.   Once the morning courses were taken care of, I roamed Beirut freely and all alone. The Lebanese pound was strong (the dollar was worth 2 LP at the time): I could afford in the afternoon to see movies, watch theater pieces, or go to the empty beaches in mid September and October, eat local sandwiches of falafel, shaworma, and freshly pressed fruits with less than a dollar.

Most of the days I ended up attending conferences, political party meetings, joining regular demonstrations and marches by university students, sit-ins, hunger strikes on the street in front of the education ministry (I tried once for half a day), fleeing police tanks and water hoses, or just walking all around Beirut circulating where the “movable fairs” crossed my path, gathering of people chanting slogans against the sectarian and mercantile political system, the defeatist government against the frequent bombardment of Israel in south Lebanon…

There was heavy polarization in Lebanon:  On one side, we had the groups that wanted a strong army ready to retaliate at Israel’s frequent aggressions, civil marriage, eliminating the privileges of the 19 officially recognized religious sects in administering civil status and not paying taxes, and planning for a modern economical basis: These groups backed the rights of the Palestinians for armed struggle to re-conquer lands occupied by Israel.  On the other side, there were groups against the armed presence of the Palestinians outside camps, the belief that Lebanon’s existence depended on its weak army, and that no political reforms should be on the table to be discussed.

The citizens in south Lebanon (mostly Moslem Chiaa)  flocked to the suburbs of Beirut, mainly in Dahieh that was labelled the “Red belt of poverty.”   The Palestinian Liberation Movement, led by Yasser Arafat, and its institutions were firmly established in Beirut and in a dozen Palestinian camps.  Cash in hard currency spent by the PLO and the various resistance movements maintained the Lebanese currency very strong.

In January 1972, a series of Charley Chaplin movies were shown in the theater Colise such as “Modern Times”, “City Lights”, “Gold rush”, and “Dog’s life”

In February 1972, “Traffic” by French director Jacque Tati was shown in the movie theater Etoile. Tati attended the show and fielded questions.  Tati directed only five films such as “Holiday”, Vacation of Mr. Hulo”, and “My uncle”.  The main character in the movies of Tati is a regular French person fond of American dreams of speed, machines, and order.

In May 1972, Beirut Cinema Club in cooperation with the US Cultural Center projected a series of Orson Wells movies such as “Citizen Kane”, “The lady from Shanghai”, “Secret report”, “Satan’s touch”, and “Falstaff”.  Wells mostly recalls the negative critics: for example, a critic said that Orson shouts like a rhinoceros” when Orson played “Candid” of Bernard Show.

Wells and Charlie Chaplin might be the greatest directors.  Wells prefers that producers invest massively on many movies even if one of his films are not marketed.  He said: “Without men there is no art.  Without women, men never become artists”

Also in May 1972, the movie theater projected a series of Ingmar Bergman films such as “The holder”, “The shame”, “Persona”, the hour of the wolf”, “the source”, and “Screams and Whispers”.  Bergman stands in front of doubt and points with his finger.  We are facing the nature of our existence on earth. He does not leave us any choices; he does not even choose.  People are left to face death alone, always alone and in isolation.  People are wary of the aristocratic double faces, lies, hate, and scheming.

December 1972 witnessed the first screening of “Hold it…O Sea” by Kuwaiti director Khaled Al Sidick in the theater Commodore in Hamra.  The movie describes three generations of Kuwaitis before oil production and after.  People in Kuwait were mostly into deep diving to retrieve pearles and sell it to big exploiters.  This movie cost 50,000 dinars from Khaled own money.  Khaled was sent to Bombay (India) at eight of age to study.  In India, they would wrap sweet with a piece of paper summarizing the movie you are attending. Khaled’s father supposed that his son was studying business; but khaled was studying cinema.

In January 1973, “Do it again Sam” and “Banana” by Woody Allen were projected along with “Fantasia” by Walt Disney in the theater Embassy.

In May 1973, the film “Red Weddings” by French director Claude Chabrol was projected in Eldorado movie theater.  There was a curfew in the previous week:  The Lebanese army tried to enter the Palestinian camp of Dbayeh (mostly Christians).  A few feddayins escaped and fled through the valley of river Nahr Kalb; we provided them shelter for three days in Beit-Chabab. These Christian feddayins resumed the trip to Dhour Shouwier.  An ambush by the Phalange (Kataeb) Party killed several of them on the way.

Chabrol has a particular style and a deterministic view on how events should unfold:  His movies are about illicit love affairs, then murder, then punishment by the “bourgeois” legal system.  That falling in-love is genuine, it is irrelevant and must be punished, one way or another.

In August 1973, the movie “American night” by French director Francois Truffeau is projected in the Piccadilly theater.  Truffeau was honor guest  in Beit Meri during the movie festival for the French-speaking countries.  Truffeau relates his love story with films and the difficulties for pulling up a movie.  He said: “The film begins with vast dreams, and the dream shrinks gradually until you wonder how diminished and regular the dream ended up.”

In September 1973, a series of Alfred Hitchcock movies were shown in the theater Starco. Among these films were “Pshyco”, “The mountain”, Frenzy”.  The common denominators in Hitchcock movies are:

First, they take place within bourgeois settings that reflect the strongest modern western societies’ troubles;

Second, the personalities are schizophrenic and live normal life among their communities;

Third, the murderers prefer hanging their victims or strangling them with any kinds of ropes;

Fourth, the main hero is basically the dead body.

In May 1975 (the Lebanese civil war had started in April), the Arabic Cinema Club hosted a series of Cuban movies in the Beirut movie theater. Director Octavio Gomez had several of his films projected such as “Days of water”  and “With God’s help”. Santiago Alvarez had “Ho chi Minh” and “I am the son of Americas”;  Pasteur Vega showed “Viva the Republic”; Manuel Herera in “Giron”. 

A short documentary on Miriam Makeba (wife of Stokely Carmichael).

Spring fairs in the western world spread to most nations where the partying lasted and lasted.  The virus of the movable feast reached countries with old systems destroyed by the colonial powers:  The newer power systems were unstable and mostly haphazard to come chasing after mass movable fairs.

Spring of 68 crossed to Lebanon and lasted 5 years and emerged on a civil war that lasted 13 years and produced 300 thousand casualties, dead and injured (10% of the population!)

Note:  Details of my reminiscing were supplied by Georges Al Rassi in “Stations along the trail of Lebanese and Arab movies




February 2023

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