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Review: The Great Dictator

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The Great Dictator – This movie is brillaint, moving and amazing. Charlie Chaplin plays two key characters – Hynkel (who is quite clearly a take-off on Hitler) and a Jewish barber. It’s mind-blowing to imagine the daring it took to make a movie making fun of Hitler at such a difficult time, when the war was not yet over and the enormity of Hitler’s actions not yet fully realized.

And yet the movie has sequences that are among the funniest I have ever seen, particularly one in which Hynkel/Hitler does a dance with a large balloon representing the globe, bouncing and tossing it and playing with it but then crying when it ultimately pops.

I give it a 9.5.
ed: JH

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Chaplin made The Great Dictator as a propaganda piece against Hitler and the repression and anti-Semitic acts that had occurred before the start of the war. He was a Liberal (not a Communist as J. Edgar Hoover and HUAC wanted to believe but probably closer in temprament to Britain’s Labour Party), and British and his half-brother Sydney Chaplin was Jewish so it seems like he had a vested interest in making a statement against Hitler. He later said that if he’d known the true horrors of Hitler’s Germany – specifically the death camps – he would never have made the film.

  • People still don’t get how truly brave Chaplin was to make this movie. It really did poke a very sharp sabre in the face of Nazism. I don’t want to call the audiences of that era naive, but I do think we’ve come to appreciate dark humor and satire much more since then.

  • Thanks for the excellent responses.
    I really like this comment, which is emphasized on the excellent dvd extras I saw about the movie:
    ” He later said that if he’d known the true horrors of Hitler’s Germany – specifically the death camps – he would never have made the film.”

    And yes the whole thing was very brave – I came away from re-watchi.
    ng the movie with much more respect for Chaplin.

    And that scene with the globe? Priceless