Leading 10 Masonic Movies and also Referrals to Freemasonry Keys in Movies: Part One and Two by Duncan Burden

(Duncan Problem) There have been several masonic movies that draw their plots directly by referencing Freemasonry, such as the comedy ‘Are You a Mason?’ in 1915 and remade in 1934, and Johnny Depp’s horror-thriller ‘From Hell’ in 2001 which shows the conspiracy elements linking Victorian English Freemasons involved with the notorious Jack the Ripper.

There have been several masonic movies that draw their plots directly by referencing Freemasonry, such as the comedy ‘Are You a Mason?’ in 1915 and remade in 1934, and Johnny Depp’s horror-thriller ‘From Hell’ in 2001 which shows the conspiracy elements linking Victorian English Freemasons involved with the notorious Jack the Ripper.

In the light-adventure genre there is Nicolas Cage’s Disney blockbuster ‘National Treasure’ of 2004, creating a story of America’s Founding Fathers and the supposed treasure of the Knights Templar handed down and protected by Freemasons, making a fun and family entertaining treasure hunt. Unfortunately, it is believed that it is due to the production of this film, that Dan Brown’s own story of a lost Masonic prize, ‘The Lost Symbol’, part of his ‘Robert Langdon’ series (‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels and Demons’) never made it past pre-production, as many in the business thought that the concept was too similar.

Even so, Freemasonry continues to be used as a template for big screen stories, continuing with the 2013 movie, actually called ‘The Freemason’, with the catchy and masonically emotive tagline of ‘Three can keep a secret, if two are dead…’

The public passion for Freemasonry has been evident from the first printed ‘Exposures’ of the Fraternity, published about it in the late 17th century. These were often small booklets claiming to reveal the secrets of the Order, or where editorial pieces written for Newspapers, to increase sales and circulation, and quality that film producers and writers still think can make them money. Yet, perhaps the more engaging quest for the public is to trace the more subtle uses and references to Freemasonry that have been used in films, possibly left as ‘teasers’ for those ‘in the know’, or acts of ‘homage’ to a quality of culture that may appreciate them?

Here is the first of five of a list of 10 films that give either a good ‘wink’ to Freemasonry, or a smile to those who might catch the reference.

 

1) Time Machine (1960)

Possibly the most parodied version of H. G. Well’s 1895 novel, staring Rod Taylor as the ‘Time-Travelling’ Inventor George Well. Even though dated in its presentation, the Time Machine and the representations of the vile Morlocks have become iconic and, for many, instantly recognizable, even for them to be used as a full plotline for a ‘Big Bang Theory’ episode.

Yet, there is a subtle masonic reference, possibly used to both represent the period of the Time Travelers native life, and to express the basis of the friendship and nature of care from his best friend in the story ‘David Filby’, who in the film is played by Alan Young.

Near the beginning of the film, to set the story, the principle character invites friends round to show a model of his invention. At the end of the test, and most of the guests have left, the character Filby stays because of his concern for his friend and says the following line…

‘George, I speak to you as a friend, and even more, as a brother…’

The importance of this statement is the order of the words. Besides the fact that no hint in the book is ever given of these two men actually being brothers by blood or marriage, even if they were related, then the statement would read ‘George, I speak to you not just as a brother, but even more so a friend…’implying that the latter is more important than the obvious former. As such, the latter is not obvious, at least to those not aware of why these two could be termed ‘Brothers’, but to a Freemason this statement is extremely clear.

Freemasons understanding of Brotherhood is of genuine concern for a fellow Brother, and are duty bound to care for a fellow Mason (within the restrictions of Divine and Government Law and their own ability and responsibilities). When this is understood, this simple ‘throw-away’ line has a significance of meaning to the Masons in the audience.

2) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

The film ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ is actually based on a comic book series which began in 1999, although technically more of an ‘interpretation’ of series, which caused a little unrest for fans of the comics. Again, possibly due to this story also being placed in the Victorian era, Freemasonry again seems to be a device to depict the period, as the film gives at least three direct visual Masonic references. In two close-ups of an oversize masonic ‘Square and Compasses’ ring worn by the villain character ‘Phantom’, who is trying to start a world war.

The same masonic device is seen on the doors of the founder of the League, ‘M’, who is later discovered to be an incarnation of the criminal genius ‘Moriarty’.

As such, it appears that the attempt is being made to show Freemasons as being an evil part of the plan, or, at least, that the villains are using the society to protect themselves or promote their influence through it. It’s worth noting that the author of the original graphic novel was an Alan Moore, who also was behind the graphical novel ‘From Hell’, which becomes the Johnny Depp film of the same name. In which, although it had Jack the Ripper as a Freemason, also had Freemasons carrying out their own punishment on this killer.

3) Help! (1965)

On a lighter note, the tongue-in-cheek Beatles film ‘Help’ present a swift pun towards Freemasonry. In the 1960’s English culture was in change, with a class struggle of definition. One side of the populace, still believing in an ethos of British Empire and ‘stiff-upper-lip’ attitude to the themselves and the world, against the flooding wave of freedom and love massing in fashion and the arts, and for many this was defined by the Beatles, in their music and how they presented themselves. During this time, if the Beatles could be seen as representing the new representation of English culture, then Freemasonry would be the personification of the aged ‘old-boy-network’. Membership to Freemasonry was something for a point of mockery during this transition, as many Monty Python sketches demonstrate.

Yet, in cinema, a fun example can be found, when the famous drummer Ringo Starr, asks an Indian restaurant doorman, ‘You know what this ring means?’, to which he gets the reply ‘Freemason?’ Perhaps history will continue to interpret this simple exchange, is the waiter seeing the boasting fun of Ringo no different to the boasting understanding of Freemasonry at the time? Was this is an artistic moment of clarity, showing that really both ends of this cultural divide were really just two sides of the same coin? Is it furtherly poetic, that it is neither a Freemason or Ringo making the observation, but rather an ordinary member of the public, a character just getting on with life and the madness of perceived extremes continue. Or perhaps it was just a very weak joke.

4) Hobson’s Choice (1954)

Hobson’s Choice is a delightful black and white romantic comedy, based on the play by David Lean. The title of the play and, subsequently, the film comes directly from an English cultural term, inferring when someone is given the notion of ‘free choice’ but in reality that only one choice of action exists.

The phrase is meant to have originated by a Thomas Hobson, who lived in Cambridge, England, through the end of the 16th century into the 17th, whose attitude to customer service was simply ‘take it, or leave it’, in that although his livery stable held around 40 horses available to be hired, which encouraged his customers to come in on the assumption that they could have their pick, but when they were inside they discovered that although 40 horses were there, they were denied choice and told they could only have a specific horse.

In the film, Charles Laughton plays the title character of ‘Henry Horatio Hobson’, a heavy drinker and widower with three daughters. He uses his daughters as virtual slave-labour, until eventually the eldest, the most prudent of the three, marries and goes into business herself, in competition to her Father’s and eventually takes-over in situation that explains the name of the production.

There are at least three Masonic references in the film.

A visual reference is that there is a Masonic Master Mason’s certificate briefly seen hanging on a wall, when one of the daughters walks into her father’s office, a second certificate is seen later in the front of the shop. In most jurisdictions, this would be a Masonic offence to show your Masonic certificate in public, especially at work.

Yet is the three points in the script that are more entertaining to mention in their references to Freemasonry. One is when a character called ‘Mr. Heeler’ enters the shop asking for Mr. Hobson, but is told that Mr. Hobson hasn’t even come down to have his breakfast yet. To this the oldest sister exclaims, ‘Breakfast? With your Masons meeting last night?’, not only implying that Mr. Heeler is also recognized as a Mason, but also that it should be common knowledge that after ‘their’ meetings it should be known that Mr. Hobson would be ‘recovering’.

Another reference is again from the oldest sister, when she takes offence against how he is speaking to her across the dinner table, by saying ‘You’re not addressing a Mason’s meeting, now father!’

Yet it is the very first line of the film that is the most engaging, when Mr. Hobson enters the shop, clearly drunk, and the same daughter says, ‘Good job your Masons meeting’s only once a month.’ Which not only quickly sets the tone between Father and Daughter, but also of Mr. Hobson’s representation of a character joining a group for social recognition, but socially inept to acknowledge his failings in adhering to the moral code of conduct expected.

The observation of drunk masons is not new. The famous 18th century artist William Hogarth, published several satirical engravings mocking the public displays of drunken Freemasons cavorting through the streets of London after their meetings. The interesting thing is that Hogarth was a prominent Freemason himself, which means his work could be reviewed as damaging to his own fraternity, but really his work is really a political statement of a hypocrisy that existed at the time, of how many social figures who joined the craft and self-claimed themselves to be moralists, were normally the most immoral of society.

The charm of the film quote now is not so much the immorality, just the humble observation confirming that for most modern masons, with modern lives, the monthly visit to the lodge often is their only social engagement, and are often called ‘Knife and Fork’ masons – there only for the company and food.

5) Magnolia (1999)

Magnolia is not a casual film by any extreme. It’s one of those films that you have to sit and engage with, no slipping out for more popcorn. This film is, itself, structured to a modern work of classical art, in that its value is not meant to be just a movie, but something purposefully designed to have additional depth and meaning. Perhaps the several references to Freemasonry, both visually and verbally, are meant to convey not the literal portrayal of the society, but what that society is seen to be by many within it and against it, as a society with various intentional meanings, and depending on your opinion those meanings are both positive and negative.

The first real representation of Freemasonry in the film is the character ‘Stanley Spector’, who is reading in the school library and out of the various known titles is a book not commonly known outside Masonic scholars, Albert Mackey’s ‘The History of Freemasonry’. The presence of this book could simply be the random choice of the prop department, although the coincidence exists that the name of Tom Cruise’s character is , ‘Frank T.J. Mackey’. It is most probable that Stan brought this book from home (in one of those four bags of books he brings to school every day), as this seems to be an unlikely text to find in a middle school library.

Two other Masonic references come in quick succession, and are so obvious, especially to a Freemason, that it seems extremely evident that the film is trying hard to highlight the point. It occurs with the television show host, ‘Jimmy Gator’, who is about to go on set and his friend, the show’s executive, ‘Burt Ramsey’, gives him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, which clearly shows that common cinematic tool of indicating a Freemason, a masonic ring.

Yet, if that was not enough the character adds the words ‘We met upon the level, and we’re parting on the square.’ This term of meeting ‘on the level’ and ‘part on the ‘square’ is a concept of description of how Freemasons are meant to greet and treat each other, and, in one form or another is found in Masonic ceremonies around the world, although the actual need for the audience to know this as a fact is not important, as even if it wasn’t true it would be accepted as something a Mason would be accepted as saying as it sounds ceremonial, implies a bond between two people and hints are referring to tools a stonemason might use.

Besides these clear references, other hints of Masonic values ‘could’ be seen as being represented in this film. In the visual layout of set on of Jimmy Gator game show, in the panels are such things as set of compasses , the Greek letter π , balancing scales, a globe, Bohr’s atomic structure, the Caduceus, a weather vein with the cardinal directions, a hand holding a quill, a harp, and a book with an oil lamp, although far from conclusive, these images are meant to convey in the film that the program is about education, and would seem logical to use classical representations of education to convey this. Yet, education, for both children and the individual is evident in Masonic rituals, and in these references also use classical symbols and terms to express their importance – just as this film appears to attempt to do. Why it does is openly left for the audience to interpret.

The final possible Masonic reference is to a story related in the film, which is about ‘The Hanging of Three Men’, describing how a businessman is murdered by three men who were trying to rob him. This could be an allusion to one of the primary stories found in Freemasonry, of the Masonic legend of Hiram Abif, Grand Master and architect of King Solomon’s Temple, who is said to be killed by three Fellow Crafts (known as the Three Ruffians) who wanted to know the Secrets of a Master Mason.

Art, classically, is meant to challenge, which certainly seems to be the element of this film. Some would argue that the full interpretation is left for the individual to enjoy, but in reality, classical art is meant to only offer a single correct interpretation, that only the worthy get to find – that is a treasure hunt in itself and perhaps something for another discussion, for another time.

Top Ten Masonic Movies and References to Freemasonry Secrets in Films: Part Two by Duncan Burden
Here is the second part of what I would consider the top ten Masonic Movies that hold a significant Masonic connection, either by referring to Freemasonry directly, or indirectly, but in a way that either uses a public interpretation of Freemasonry to help convey an element of the plot, or appears to be an elusive ‘tip-of-the-hat’ to the possible Masons in the audience who may appreciate a subtle reference.
Which is not a bad introduction to the next film on the list…

6) 10,000 BC (2008)

The interest, expectation and interpretation of Freemasonry is as different inside of the Fraternity as it is by those outside of it. Most modern Freemasons simply enjoy the social concept of the organisation, of meeting likeminded people, and appreciate Freemasonry as a society promoting moral behavior and charitable principles.

Yet there is a minority people inside the Freemasonry, and out of it, that are convinced beyond doubt that this is just the glossy veneer of the Craft, and, maintain that for the more ‘enlightened’ there are ancient esoteric secrets to be found within it, which trace back to the beginning of civilization, and that the very reason the members are called ‘Masons’ is due to that moment in cultural history when humanity moved from the caves and really ‘built’ structures and thus created society itself.

Indeed, many early Masonic documents, like ‘Old Charges’ and ‘Constitutions’ do give dramatic histories tracing Freemasonry back to ancient Egypt and to Biblical times. For many Brethren they were seen, even at their time of composition, simply as engaging creative illusions, and never meant to be taken literally, yet many have.

For this reason, many Masons see the film of 10, 000 BC, directed by Roland Emmerich, as a veiled representation of the very beginnings of Freemasonry.

The film, as the title suggests, is set in the prehistoric era, and stars Steven Strait and Camilla Belle, and begins with a voice-over which seems to echo of the origin legends of Freemasonry, as it describes stories that are the remnants of myths and dreams.

The audience is then introduced to the primary character ‘D’Leh’ who you discover is the ‘Son of a Widow’, in that his father left to try and find a safer place for his tribe to live. The term ‘Son of a Widow’ is a Masonic phrase to define a Master Mason, as one of the first Masons is described as a ‘Son of a Widow’ and every Master Mason has to ‘play’ this character in the relevant ceremony.

Ultimately the character D’Leh has to go on a quest, and although stronger hunters exist, it is his intellect that enables him to succeed. From a Masonic perspective, this is meant to represent wisdom is greater than strength, and the understanding of this is a fundamental step in the evolution of society.

Another common element interpreted as being Masonic is that for the first part of the adventure, the hero is not alone but accompanied by two companions, making it a party of three. The grouping of three, especially three men, is a common feature in Masonic ceremonies, but equally it is a common element in story-telling, as it allows a character to express what they are thinking, if someone is near to whom they can say it, and as such let the audience in on what is going on. The reason for three, instead of just two, is that one can die without totally loosing this cinematic device. As with all these commentaries, it is left for the audience to decide why three here is used.

Yet, it is the last climatic scenes that the theories of Masonic influence are considered to be firmly entrenched. As the film draws to an end, it is revealed that the reason the rival hostile group exists, is that they are using slave labor (and woolly mammoths) to build three vast pyramids in a dessert. There is no literal reference to the location as being Ancient Egypt, but the scale and layout of structures, seem to be a clear intention that the implication is for the audience to accept they are watching the building of the primary pyramids of Giza, not as tombs, not as three buildings built is succession, but three built at the same time for a more significant reason.

The pyramid has often been used to represent Freemasonry, mostly by non-masons, but still as set of cmpasses are briefly seen on a set of plans – the combination of these two together is a significant symbol within Freemasonry – but again hardly conclusive.

Ultimately, the audience is left to draw its own conclusion, but for many Masons this film emulates a dramatic representation of those early Masonic legends, mixing the possibly logical development of knowledge and power, being defeated by wisdom, a time honored lesson of philosophy and theology – again, a concept of study that is not limited to Masonic imagery.

7) Lost Horizon (1937)

This film is actually based on a book, of the same name, by James Hilton, in which a British diplomat, Robert Conway, and ‘three’ others crash land in the Himalayas, and are rescued by the remote tribe living in the legendary lost land of Shangri-la. In the book there is no definitive reference to Freemasonry, although there is a line that states ‘we shall expect you to use your influence to get us a square deal.’

The term ‘square deal’ is common enough outside of Freemasonry, and refers to someone being fairly treated. I would not be so quick to assume that its origin is Masonic, or that its use here is anyway attempting to convey a Masonic link, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it.

From a Masonic perspective the term relates to a manner of behavior a Freemason is expected to uphold, and is symbolized by the Stonemason’s tool, the Square. As such a Mason is told to deal with people ‘on the square’ – thus behave with integrity and honesty.

Yet this is not the reason for referring to the film, for in the film one of the additional three characters, an Edward Everett Horton, is interrupted, when he is talking about the mass of written knowledge found being stored and protected by the local inhabitants, as he says, ‘I’ve just finished translating one of the most interesting old tablets you can imagine. It told me all about the origin of the masonic symbols and science and….’

It is entertaining to imagine how much thought was taken in finalizing that statement. Was it just a literal device of that the Writer and Director? Did they rely on the audience to instantly conjure a value from this subtle reference, that Freemasonry, with its public image of strange symbols and rumors of origins in antiquity, would instantly convey a sense of mysticism for this new found, lost world? Or was there more?

The question of more comes from the literal structure of the sentence. The character is obviously meant to be recognized as being versed in literature, as he is translating languages, but yet he says ‘symbols and science and’. In English grammar, it would be considered ‘bad form’, to have two ‘ands’ in the same expressive part of a sentence, something a literary scholar would be fully aware of…so why the two ‘ands’?

One explanation is that the extra ‘and’ was simply a tool to express that sense of excitement, that the character is so overwhelmed with the discoveries he is meant to have come across that he is like a giddy school boy at Christmas and listing his presents one by one, too amazed to adhere to the rules of rhetoric.

A second explanation is that the extra ‘and’ was an error. The sentence is cut-off due someone else interrupting, as such the latter half of the sentence would never have been written, so it’s possible, even with re-takes, that the interrupt was just slightly too late, and the actor adlibbed and tried to make the sentence continue which required another ‘and’, after which the other actor’s delivery came in.

Yet there is a third possible reason that would be grammatically correct, and something that relates to Freemasonry. That would be if the Script Writers had in mind the following sentence in full, ‘I’ve just finished translating one of the most interesting old tablets you can imagine. It told me all about the origin of the masonic symbols and science and nature,’ or ‘masonic symbols and science and wisdom.’

In Freemasonry, studies are told to be investigated, these are ‘the hidden mysteries of Nature and Science’, or another grouping would have the mind dedicated to ‘Science and Virtue.’ If the second word, in either case, had been said, most Freemasons would have seen the obvious hint, but with the empty-ending second ‘and’, it is almost like the words are hanging in the air waiting to be hear by a Masonic ear, just as we all can’t imagine hearing the word ‘Laurel and’ without hearing ‘Hardy’ to follow, thus no need to say ‘Hardy’ as our instincts have already made us fill in the gap.

8) The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

This is another literary work that was made into a film, which was originally a short story by Rudyard Kipling’s short story, which eventually was adapted to be the famous film starring the cinematic legends Sean Connery (as Daniel) and Michael Caine (as Peachy).

The plot of the story is of two ex-British soldiers, living in India, deciding to take a collection of modern weapons to the remote region of Kafiristan, where they believed that with their military experience and the small collection of modern guns, they could slowly takeover the country which was divided into small groups of tribes people. The military strategy being similar to that of Alexander the Great, the last conqueror of the region, by using allegiance to the superior force and bringing the tribes together under that regime would ultimately create a kingdom. From which they would get rich and return to England with enough money to retire.

In the story, both as a book and a film, Freemasonry is a tool that underpins the various pivotal points of the plot. In the story, Rudyard Kipling is himself portrayed, in the film played by Christopher Plummer, and it is his membership into Freemasonry that brings him to know the two ex-service men.

Historically, Kipling was an actual Mason, and his famous poem ‘If’, is often seen as a brilliant literally display of what a Freemasonry strives to do. In the film, his pocket watch is stolen by Peachy, but seeing the Masonic emblem of a Square and Compasses on the fob, Peachy, being a fellow Mason, tries to return it to Kipling.

In the process, using the oaths of Brotherhood to help a fellow Mason, Kipling agrees to pass a message on to another Mason, and Peachy’s friend, Daniel. The charm of this exchange, and Kipling’s first meeting with Daniel, is that the warmth that is shared between the three characters when each realizes the other is a Freemason. When written crudely this could be understood that Freemasons are willing help each other out not matter what the law, or what we may know about their character.

Yet Masons know that this is not the case, no Mason can help another, or anyone, to commit a crime or help them allude justice. Kipling’s willingness to forgive Peachy for stealing his watch, to be willing to pass a message on to Daniel and endure the rudeness of his initial greeting, is because Freemasons are taught not to judge but to forgive – which, when you watch the film, is what is being enacted.

Another curious part of the use of Freemasonry used in the film, and exists in the short story, are the verbal exchanges that are given between the characters that allow them to recognize each other as Masons. The exchanges are presented just as if they were two secret agents meeting in a foreign country, with one posing a unique question and the other giving a very scripted answer.

The exchanges sound very Masonic, with comments like ‘to travel to the East’, ‘to seek that which was lost’ and ‘for the widow’s son’. Although these are masonic terms, this is, in many areas, including England, not a practiced method of Masonic recognition, so appears to many Masons as being a cinematic creation – but what many Mason’s today may not know, is that the exchange was part of demonstration ceremony that is rarely seen these days, but was more common at the time of Kipling, and is still familiar in such countries as America.

The use of Freemasonry raises again later, when Peachy and Daniel come to discover that the Craft also exists in Kafiristan, and was apparently brought there by Alexander the Great, and the locals come to believe that Daniel is a reincarnation of Alexander due to his knowledge of Freemasonry – and who completes their Masonic education by teaching them the Third Degree of Freemasonry. Unfortunately, the mercenary nature of these two Englishmen make them take advantage of the situation and, needless to say, it doesn’t end well.

The book of Kipling is not the easiest to read, but the film is still an amazing interpretation of original story – and, as with many of Michael Cain films, full of quotable lines – such as:

Billy Fish : ‘He wants to know if you are gods?’

Peachy : ‘Not gods – Englishmen. The next best thing.’

And

Peachy : ‘Danny, let us seek safety on the battlefield.’

9) The Librarian : Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2006)

This is one of a series of TV released movies in which Freemasonry is frequently referred to. The style of these films echo that of Indiana Jones and the search and discovery of lost artifacts. The reason I would highlight this particular film is this is on the rare occasion that a specific Masonic term is used, namely ‘Cryptic Freemasons’ and ‘Cryptic Freemasonry.’

There is a common misconception that Freemasonry consists of 33 degrees, and the 33rd degree is reserved for the secret hierarchy of the Craft. This simply isn’t true.

Although Freemasonry exists around the world, the way in which Freemasonry is practiced in different countries is very different in itself, especially beyond what is generally called ‘The Craft’.

Commonly ‘The Craft’ only refers to the first three degrees of Freemasonry, namely the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees. As such, all around the world this is considered core Freemasonry, or ‘The Craft’, and ANYTHING beyond that is just seen as ‘added’ material. All Masons are considered Masons through these just Craft Freemasonry, but even those three degrees are performed differently around the world.

When a Mason has gone through these three degrees, they can if they wish join completely different organisations which only allow Masons to join, such as the Scottish Rite and the York Rite. In the Scottish Rite they offer an extra 30 degrees (hence 33 degrees), each as a progressive step one after another, but most of these are openly recognized as being relatively modern creations. While the York Rite also offers other ceremonies for Freemasons, but are not really in a set order, but grouped in collections called ‘Chivalric Orders’, ‘Capitular Degrees’ and ‘Cryptic Degrees’.

Due to the public expectation of Freemasonry being 33 degrees, and the assumption that this is a universal set standard, it is interesting to see, at least one example in film, of showing that it is only the Scottish rite that really offers this presentation, and that other, arguably, older systems exist – such as the York Rite and their Cryptic Degrees.

In England, often seen as the historic authority of Freemasonry, they don’t really have either a York or Scottish Rite, but just a collection of several separate organisations and orders which a Mason could join, but openly state that Freemasonry is ONLY three degrees and three degrees ONLY.

10) The Great Dictator

This could be the most controversial addition to the list, as it holds the greatest debate on whether any intentional Masonic reference exists, yet I would still put it on the list for you to decide.

‘The Great Dictator’ is one of those films that is seen as a historic classic. It is one of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘talkies’ and, personally, I would consider his greatest achievement in comedy, story-telling and art, rivaled only by his famous ‘City Lights’, whose opening 20 minutes is just brilliant.

The film itself is composed in what is called ‘allegory’, which is when one event is presented to not only depict the obvious, but also, simultaneously represents another event at exactly the same time. How Chaplin does this is by presenting a story where a short little man, with an iconic mustache, become a Dictator of his country, prosecutes a minority within his nation and prepares for world domination. It is obvious even though Nazi Germany is never mentioned, that this is exactly the veiled ‘allegory’ that Chaplin is presenting. In the course of the story, in the age old plot of mistaken identity, a timid barber, of the persecuted race, also played Chaplin, becomes the leader.

How this relates to Freemasonry is the long lasting debate of whether Chaplin was a Freemason or not. To be honest, I would have to say, I don’t think he was, as no record is know of his membership, and due to his fame, it is unlikely to have gotten away with someone not noticing him at a Lodge (although it is said that he once sneaked into a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like completion and only came in second – so maybe he could have). Yet, the strongest argument that he was is due to the final speech of the film. If a Freemason listened to it, it so echoes the sentiment of Freemasonry, that even if it wasn’t Masonic, it should be, and even if you are not a Mason it is worth watching to understand what Freemasonry really is, and perhaps we all should try to be.

I hope you have enjoyed this list. Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments

  1. John mundia April 8, 2018 Reply
    • Timothy L. Horton April 8, 2018 Reply

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