The great dictator, a movie review

A movie review by: Lee Sonogan

(1940)  2h5min/ Comedy, drama, war


Commander Shutz: Strange, and I always thought you as an Aryan

A jewish barber: I’m a vegetarian


Heres a another Charles Chaplin movie review. It is about a Dictator Adenoid Hynkel, who tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime. Released eleven years after the end of the silent era, this was Charles Chaplin’s first all-talking, all-sound film. When Charles Chapin had heard that studios were trying to discourage him from making the film, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a representative, Harry Hopkins, to Chaplin to encourage him to make the film.

This film was financed entirely by Charles Chaplin himself, and it was his biggest box-office hit. Shot in 539 days, Charles Chaplin wrote the entire script in script form, except for the fake German, which was improvised. In addition, he also scripted every movement in the globe dance sequence. Charles Chaplin spent hours studying films of Adolf Hitler to perfect an imitation of his speaking style. He would eventually do this with a combination of nonsense syllables and isolated German words.

Charles Chaplin considered Adolf Hitler to be one of the greatest actors he had ever seen, while Hitler assumed that Chaplin was a Jew. Adolf Hitler banned the film in Germany and in all countries occupied by the Nazis. Curiosity got the best of him, and he had a print brought in through Portugal. History records that he screened it twice, in private, but history did not record his reaction to the film. Charles Chaplin said, “I’d give anything to know what he thought of it.” For political reasons in Germany, the ban stayed after the end of WWII until 1958.

With a budget of $2 million, it made $5 million in the box office. Some of Charles Chaplin’s associates tried to talk him out of the final speech about peace. One film salesman said the speech would cost him a million dollars at the box office. Chaplin replied, “Well, I don’t care if it’s five million,”. Charles Chaplin blinks fewer than ten times during the entire final speech, which lasts over five minutes.

Classic absurd Chaplin comedy mixed with interesting/funny scenes with meaning. The war references develop an interesting story. For a black and white movie its imagery is good and the sound is solid. Then credit to Chaplin for playing two different roles in the same movie. The ending of an overall excellent film has possible one of the best speeches of all time, fitting for the overall story and the time of reality outside the movie. I recommend the movie to people who like the old style comedy and Charles Chaplin movies.


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