Man of the Year

by Strauss-Peyton Studio, bromide print, circa 1920

Who is this guy? Well, you probably don’t recognize him without his trademark moustache, but this is Charlie Chaplin. He was a worlds wide figure after the release of his movie “The Tramp”. He was one of the Kings of comedy during the era of Silent movies.

Chaplin was resistant to “talkies” and did not do a movie with sound until 1940 when “Thew Great Dictator” was released in October of that year. Chaplin was, at times, compared to Adolph Hitler, given similar moustaches and the fact they were born four days apart. Chaplin was a political activist. “The Great Dictator” was a satire on Hitler and attacked fascism. Chaplin later stated that he was determined to make the movie “for Hitler must be laughed at”. The movie was controversy, for that fact. The movie ended with a five-minute monologue by Chaplin, pleading against war and fascism. The movie received five Academy Award nominations.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has just won Time’s “Man of the Year” award. He has oftentimes been compared to Winston Churchill, for his historic stand against a powerful Russia, and its dictator, Putin, and for uniting the Ukrainian people in an environment of war and deprivations of heat, water and electricity. He had the chance to flee his country when the Russian invasion began, but he chose not too

Zelenskyy, for his part, downplays his comparison to Churchill, rather he compares himself to Chaplin. Zelenskyy, like Chaplin, became well known for his career in comedy. He, like Chaplin, has taken a stand against a seemingly unbeatable dictator. Zelenskyy, made a special appearance at the 2022 Cannes festival. To close this chirp, the following quotes, by Zelenskyy at that event, best summarizes his fondness for Chaplin and why he is man of the year.

“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,”

“Will cinema stay silent, or will it talk about it? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, again, it all depends on our unity. Can cinema stay out of this unity? We need a new [Charlie] Chaplin who will prove that, in our time, cinema is not silent.”

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