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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Carnation Revolution in Portugal: Power of the People (Zeca Afonso and Chaplin)

Updated: Apr 25


In the 1960s, a new movement led the singers of fado in Coimbra to incorporate ballad and folklore. The artists began interpreting lines of poets as a form of resistance to the 41-year dictatorship of the Estado Novo, designed by António de Oliveira Salazar (1889-1970). Jose Afonso (Zeca Afonso) (1929-1987) and Adriano Correia de Oliveira (1942-1982) had a leading role in revolutionary music.


On April 25, 1974, Rádio Renascença gave the second signal for the soldiers at 00:28 with Zeca Afonso’s rousing song, Grândola, Vila Morena, reported Expresso. The Portuguese Armed Forces left the barracks at Santarem for the approximately 100-kilometer journey to Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon and the beginning of the Carnation Revolution.

 

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) starred in, directed, produced and wrote The Great Dictator (1940), which ends with a call for peace from the kindly Jewish barber who is mistaken for Tomainia’s Adenoid Hynkel, the clownish, yet cruel, caricature of Adolf Hitler, or some say, by Chaplin himself. Once Chaplin announced his project-in-progress, he received death threats. The film condemned anti-Semitism and the dangerous rise of European fascism. When The Great Dictator was released, the United States still was not officially at war with Nazi Germany.


The names of the movie’s characters mock the fascist leaders of the day. Ministers Garbitsch and Herring were modeled on Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goring. Benzino Napaloni, dictator of neighboring Bacteria, was a satirical portrayal of Italy’s Benito Mussolini.


In his 1964 autobiography, Chaplin admitted, “Had I known the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.”

 

Final speech from The Great Dictator Copyright © Roy Export S.A.S. All rights reserved:


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 man - 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 aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - 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 - 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 the 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 17th chapter of St. Luke, it is 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 fulfil that promise. They never will!


Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil 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!

 

 

Accompanied by the prelude to Act I of Wagner’s Lohengrin (Hitler’s favorite Wagnerian opera), Adenoid Hynkel’s performance with a balloon globe is a symbol of his maniacal dream of possessing the world.


Yet, when Hynkel believes that he has the world in his grasp, the bubble literally bursts. This is Chaplin’s comment on the futility of the dictator’s aspirations and reflects his optimistic belief that dictators will never succeed, according to Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (2003).

 

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