The Great Dictator (1940)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 1940.  , .  Screenplay by Charles Chaplin.  Cinematography by , Karl Struss.  Produced by Charles Chaplin.  Music by Charles Chaplin, .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1940.

People who walk around saying that the Holocaust happened because no one outside the Nazi party had any idea what was going on need only see this brilliant Charles Chaplin film, made in 1940, for something to ponder. Chaplin, in his first sound film (thirteen years after the invention of synchronized sound) plays two roles, a Jewish barber living in the ghettos of Tomainia and also the country’s dictator Adenoid Hynckel. Paulette Goddard plays the barber’s love, and the two of them attempt an uprising while Hynckel does his best to be as inept a leader as possible. The message isn’t subtle (and rightly so), but the skill is deft and the wit extremely brilliant. Who knew that giving Chaplin words would reveal a masterful poet as talented at verbal expression as he was at physical? A veritable masterpiece from an artist whose career was chock full of them.

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