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The Nobel Prize for Chaplin 

The time is not "in" to give Chaplin the Nobel Peace Prize – it's a shame he hasn't received it long ago.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

Charles Chaplin: My life
Translated by Odd Bang-Hansen, 455 pages, Cappelen publishing house, 1964

7. October 1964 

I have grabbed so few books so excitedly – and a couple of the causes are up today. In the history of civilization, no other artist has reached out to all the people of the world like Charles Chaplin, and to this, the reader who is over 50 years, has been able to follow the evolution of this entire adventure in his own lifetime, step by step, from the first , the simple fathers of sublime art with the message of humanity to the millions. I even saw Chaplin's first 1 and 2 acts around 1920, and through 40 his films became something far more than isolated, illuminating experiences in cinema – they came to be a pretty significant part of spiritual baggage. And then, finally having between his hands his own story!

After all that was written about him by others – and it has become a sizable pile over the years – many questions about the artist and man's Chaplin have been waiting for answers that perhaps only he himself could provide. With the greatest excitement, I looked forward to his own answer to this question:

How could it be that Chaplin, after being idolized by the American people as by everyone else for decades, had to move from the United States in 1952 – formally voluntary, effectively displaced as a social enemy, or almost swept out like a creep by a wave of hatred and contempt? 

The answer is one so wonderful chapter of modern cultural history that I want to gather the mention of My life if it. And then first a brief summary at Chaplin, at the end of the book:


"My friends have asked me how I could develop such antagonism in America. My serious sin was, and still is, that I am not conforming. Although I am not a communist, I refused to align myself with those who hated communists. In addition, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Business – a disingenuous term because it is resilient enough to impose a sanction on any American citizen who raises his voice to speak his honest opinion and who is in the minority. Third, I have never tried to become a US citizen – ”

In all, Chaplin's view of life and attitude toward current politics were only to a small extent shaped by reading. From the beginning it meant far more to him to meet people who had something to do with and could turn their minds through conversations. Thus, one would think that he was thoroughly prepared for "socially hostile" inclinations, for his intercourse soon marked his success. At the age of 25, he had his avalanche-like breakthrough on the cinema screen, and a few years later he was established as a lifelong millionaire, and from then on buzzed rich people and aristocrats around him.

He later joined artists such as Bert Brecht, Feuchtwanger, Theodor Dreisser and Thomas Mann, and with outstanding British socialists such as HG Wells and Harold Laski – especially the latter seems to have made a strong impression in his presentation of modern socialist theory.

This counterbalance to an environment of rich and self-cultivating "stars" could probably to some extent qualify Chaplin to become a "social enemy" in the United States, but decisive for his later development in such a way was neither childhood poverty, the influence of sharply coded socialists or interest in the Soviet Union. Chaplin's fate in the United States was in fact decided when Hitler came to power.

At first the man worked with the mustache just comical to him, like a stupid and nasty imitation of his own land striker on the cinema screen. "But when Einstein and Thomas Mann were forced to leave Germany, Hitler's face was no longer comical to me." Throughout the 1930 years, it was the barbarism of Nazism that increasingly embraced all of Chaplin's deep humanity and engaged him in real-life drama like never before. for. Characteristic are these words in the book: “I was trying to write a movie for Paulette (Goddard). But I didn't get anywhere. How could I embark on female capriciousness or think of romance and love conflicts, while the madness was awakened by the abominable and grotesque Adolf Hitler? "

Not a socialist, and even less a communist, was what sparked himself in the American public debate when Chaplin rose to the pulpit. It was in all simplicity Anti Nazi, the passionate humanist. And his first big blow was dictators

dictators became an audience success in the United States, but the press criticism was mixed, and the New York Daily News gave a clear warning of forthcoming heat by writing that Chaplin in the film "pointed the audience with a communist finger". Moreover, this insane claim – which made anti-Nazism identical to communism – was not the first storm warning. When Chaplin in 1936 created Modern Times, the ingenious satire of industrialism and the automation of the people, some columnists in advance launched rumors that the film was communist. After the premiere, the liberal critics wrote that it was neither for nor against communism, says Chaplin, "and that I had figuratively put myself on the fence."

Chaplin himself believes that the beginning of the actual crisis in the relationship between him and the Americans can date exactly to a day early in 1942 when he spoke at a meeting organized by the "American War Aid Committee to Russia". At this point, the war situation seemed desperate for the Russians, and Chaplin wholeheartedly advocated for the US relief campaign: "The Russians are our allies, they are not just fighting for without way of life, but also for ours. ”

Now he was seriously engaged, and in 1943 he took an active part in the campaign for the creation of "the other front" – a serious inner controversy in the United States at that time. And soon it began to mingle in the process of turning the film's greatest artist into a disgusting enemy of society. Laconically, he says, “As a result of my speeches on the other front, my social life in New York gradually became less and less. Now I was no longer invited to spend the weekend in lavish country houses. "- And another quote, which tells a lot about Chaplin's character:

"I now had a feeling that I was being gripped by a political avalanche. I began to analyze my motives: To what extent was I stimulated by the actor in me and the reaction of an audience that I personally met here? Would I have embarked on this don-quijote adventure if I hadn't made an anti-Nazi movie? I want to believe that all these moments played a part, but the strongest was my hatred and disdain for the Nazi system itself. ”

Then the hat campaign against first, if there was more burning to the heraldry, if you messed up a bit in the past. And in 1947, Chaplin was one of the 17 who was summoned to the herostratically renowned "Committee on American Business." He could reject this invitation to the witch process by recalling that he was not a US citizen, but he sent an iconic telegram to the committee:

We have gone blind in hoarseness and over-accumulation and have lost our sense of aesthetic. Our sense of living has been blunted by profit, power and monopolization. We have let these forces capture us, and have completely disregarded the disastrous consequences.

"To make it easier for you, I want to tell you what I think you would like to know. I am not a Communist, nor have I ever been a member of any political party or political organization in my entire life. I am what you call a 'peace advocate'. I hope this doesn't offend you. "

But Chaplin underestimated the hate wave that now rolled against him, eventually sweeping him across the Atlantic. And above all, he was unable to imagine in advance the methods to be used against him.

His position in the United States, the unparalleled goddess of decades, was simply drowned in a rolling sewer of rumors and infamous provocations. It was his "extravagance" that mattered.

In 1942, Chaplin – 53 years old – married 18 year old Oona O´Neill and after eight years of stable marriage has eight children with her.

Film Dramas, perhaps the finest Chaplin has created, was finished in 1952. It was boycotted in the United States. Chaplin left New York with "Queen Elizabeth" that year.

Many experiences tell that the mass of moviegoers care little about reading books about film and film people. Should there ever be an exception to this rule, then the chance must be there My life, and not least because Chaplin sees his efforts as a film artist in a broad perspective towards the world of today. Here is a snippet from his confession at the end of the book:

“The ever-increasing complexity of modern life that is accelerating through the twentieth century, closes the individual between gigantic institutions that threaten from all sides, political, scientific and economic. We have fallen victim to a kind of soul-
air conditioning through sanctions and appropriations.

We have found this mold in being melted down due to our lack of cultural insight. We have gone blind in hoarseness and over-accumulation and have lost our sense of aesthetic. Our sense of living has been blunted by profit, power and monopolization. We have let these forces capture us, and have completely disregarded the disastrous consequences.

Science has, without wise control or sense of responsibility, given the politicians and military so destructive weapons that they now hold the fate of every living being on earth in their hand. This power lies in the hands of men whose moral responsibility and intellectual competence are, to put it mildly, anything but infallible and in many cases questionable, so this over-accumulation of power can lead to the destruction of all life on earth. ”

Chaplin is qualified both for the Nobel Peace Prize and for the Literature Prize. If the Svenska Akademin confusedly asks for literary achievements, we can easily recall that Chaplin has also written his films, and that this literary effort in its nature is hardly further from the statute's requirements than Churchill's writing.

Time is not "in" to give Chaplin the Nobel Prize. It's a shame he didn't get it long ago. But there is a strong party who will not like it.

Texts er abbreviated av
the editors

The column from the time of Ny Tids Orientering (1953 – 1975) is edited by
Line Fausko. line@nytid.no

Sigurd Evensmo
Evensmo was formerly editor of Orientering, MODERN TIMES's forerunner.

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