May 17, 2022 - World

Zelensky alludes to Charlie Chaplin, "Apocalypse Now" in Cannes speech

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in a live link-up video during the opening ceremony for the 75th annual Cannes Film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2022 in Cannes, France. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alluded to Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" in a virtual address at the Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony on Tuesday, as he urged cinema "not to be silent" amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The big picture: In speeches before various governments and bodies, Zelensky has made a point of tailoring his words to the particular audience.

  • The Ukrainian president referenced Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Marin Luther King Jr. when speaking before the U.S. Congress and he brought up Winston Churchill while addressing the U.K. Parliament, a recent Forbes column noted.

Driving the news: The Ukrainian president referenced and quoted Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," a satire about Nazism and Adolf Hitler that premiered prior to America's entrance into World War II.

  • "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," Zelensky said, quoting "The Great Dictator," according to the New York Times.
  • "The world needs a new Chaplin who will prove [to] us that cinema isn’t silent," Zelensky said, according to Variety. "We need cinema to show that each time the ending will be on the side of freedom."
  • "Again, then as now, there is a dictator," Zelensky said, according to the New York Times. "Again, then as now, there is a war for freedom. Again, then as now, cinema must not be silent."
  • Zelensky also quoted Coppola's Vietnam War movie "Apocalypse Now," saying "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" in reference to Russia's invasion beginning in the morning, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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