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The Off-ScreenAn Investigation of the Cinematic Frame$
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Eyal Peretz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781503600720

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503600720.001.0001

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The Actor of the Crowd—The Great Dictator

The Actor of the Crowd—The Great Dictator

Chaplin, Riefenstahl, Lang

(p.78) 2 The Actor of the Crowd—The Great Dictator
The Off-Screen

Eyal Peretz

Stanford University Press

This chapter stages a confrontation, a confrontation which Chaplin himself staged in The Great Dictator, between the two most famous and influential screen “personas” of the 20th century, Chaplin and Hitler. Both Chaplin and Hitler understood the screen as an arena in relation to which the question of the modern city crowd is raised, and they both saw their task, the task of a movie star, as transforming the crowds, helping them out of their condition of anxiety of the modern world and abandonment by the ruling powers. However, whereas Chaplin’s project is a revolutionary and liberatory one, allowing the crowds to conceive of themselves as part of an unprecedented democratic project, Hitler’s “project” cancels the freedom of the crowds and submits them to a ruling fascistic identity.

Keywords:   democracy, fascism, capitalism, the 30’s, crowds, city, Chaplin, Hitler, screen-actor

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