Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chapin, Sony, Hitler & Kim Jong Un

I find it amazing that in this day and age anyone really cares about the content of the movie, "The Interview", by Sony Pictures.  The issue isn't the movie, but more about a failed state, North Korea, with a caricature of a dictator, Kim Jung Un, being able to dictate to one of our movie studios what movie to make.  Hollywood can and should make movies about any subject they want without fear of reprisals, threats or blackmail from some joke of a country with some decent hacking skills.

I'm embarrassed for Sony in kowtowing to these vague threats and pulling the picture. I think it was more the theater owner's fear of lost business on other movies rather than any real threat to anyone. Sony would not have made much money on the movie anyway so it is no real loss to them, but it is a loss of spine and the first step in our studios being bullied by foreign governments.

We only need to look back to 1940 for a similar episode to this one.  One of the greatest film makers of all time and one of the most famous men in the history of movies, Charlie Chaplin, had a similar experience with a far different outcome.  Chaplin was fascinated by Hitler in the late 1930s and admired his acting skills and oratory.  He hated Hitler, however, for what was going on in Germany and Europe.  Against the advice of all of the major studios, some powerful politicians and even his own brother, Chaplin went on to write, star, direct and produce his brilliant mockery of Adolf Hitler with his movie, The Great Dictator.

See Trailer Here: Trailer

At the time Chaplin started the project, 1937-38, Hitler was actually still admired by many people in the US who hid their heads in the sand.  By the time the movie came out in 1940, the full extent of Hitlers crimes against humanity were coming to light.  Chaplin was the only one in Hollywood to come out publicly against him. As Chaplin ran an independent studio and used his own money to make pictures, he was not subject to corporate pressures.  The other studios, all run by Eastern European members of the Jewish faith, had already acquiesced to Hitlers demands and removed their Jewish management from their German based affiliates and replaced them all with gentiles.

The movie Chaplin made was a masterpiece of mockery based on Hitler using the name Henkel as the head of the repressive state of Tomania.  The movie made a ton of money and was hailed as a masterpiece, even today holding an 8.5 rating in the top 100 at IMDB.

Chaplin was unafraid and used his comical genius to make a fool of Hitler when no one else would.

Sony, you need to look to the past and to the truly great pioneers of the film industry.  Have some guts.

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