The Great Dictator[1940]-Hall of Fame

4 06 2011

The great dictator begins with an interesting note,”Any resemblance between Hynkel the dictator and the Jewish barber is purely co-incidental’. Well considering the fact that Chaplin’s evergreen Tramp character sports a mustache which highly resembles Hitler’s and that they were both born with in a week in the same year,everything between Chaplin and Hitler seems coincidental. Like that there seems to be a lot of physical similarities between the both except for their outlook.

In 1940 when the film was released, America did not consider Hitler as a potential danger and their government followed a policy of non-intervention at first when it came to matters dealing with Europe. Not even American Jews viewed Hitler as an archetype of evil. And there lies Charlie Chaplin’s great vision in projecting Hitler as we now know.

Hitler vs Chaplin

The Great Dictator is Chaplin’s first talkie, leaving behind his stardom of the bygone silent era. Chaplin plays the dual roles of commiserate ,nameless jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel,a despotic dictator who rose to power in Tomainia while the former was recovering from an injury induced amnesia after World War I.The antagonist in this movie is most definitely Hynkel[read Hitler] but we never feel any sort of revulsion towards the dictator,mostly because we don’t have time to be disgusted with him.Charlie chaplin plays his role as if he was born to caricature hitler and he is so effective that he imitates hitler’s way of speaking[with saliva all bursting out while he is at a speech!] with utmost precision and yet makes us laugh for its apparent buffoonish overtones.There are plenty of side cast in this movie who play important roles and add humor to the excellent script of Chaplin but the one who stands out among them all is unarguably Chaplin himself.

Chaplin has used music in this movie to an undefinable level,incorporating into his physical comedy with great dynamism.Two particularly noteworthy scenes are “The shaving” scene and the ‘Globe-ballet” scene.Both these scenes are blended with classic musicals with such a perfection only Chaplin could manage.The director-actor equation seems to be in perfect equilibrium for chaplin becuase the way he amalgamated the tragic realities of holocaust and comical side of nazi authoritarianism is really a work of genius.With all that has been said, there is no denying the fact that there are some moments in the film where tongue in cheek dialogues and physical buffoonery can be tiring.

Hynkel With Globe

Chaplin shows the lives of Jewish people with great respect and doesn’t force anything on the viewers.For Chaplin The Great Dictator was a really personal movie and this is clearly evident from the barber’s emotional speech about humanity at the end of the film.Throughout the film barber sports an artificial voice for his dialogues but for the final speech, it seems the voice is coming directly from the Chaplin’s heart.

More than 70 years since the movie’s release, Chaplin through his satire on totalitarianism and its evils is still able to move,inspire and tickle the funny bones of audience at the same time.And that definitely qualifies this movie for a place in The Great Movies list of Movie Junkyard.

Trivia

1.Some of the real life characters and names of geographical locations caricatured by Chaplin.

::Hitler-Dictator  of Germany – Hynkel – Dictator of Tomainia

::Mussolini-Dictator of Italy   – Napaloni – Dictator of Bacteria

2.During Hynkel’s speech, there are several recognizable German words used. Most popular are “Wienerschnitzel” (a Viennese style breaded veal cutlet), and “Sauerkraut” (a kind of sour preserved cabbage). Others are “Leberwurst” and “Blitzkrieg”. Though some other utterances vaguely resemble words in German, the speech is actually gibberish. Several times in the film, Hynkel utters “cheese und cracken!” in the context of an obscenity.

3.When this film was released, Adolf Hitler banned it in Germany and in all countries occupied by the Nazis. Curiosity eventually got the best of him and he had a print brought in through Portugal. He screened it not once but twice. Unfortunately, history did not record his reaction to the film. When told of this, Charles Chaplin said, “I’d give anything to know what he thought of it.”

4.Charles Chaplin blinks fewer than ten times during the entire final speech, which lasts over five minutes.

Reference-IMDB

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