"The Great Dictator" does have an extremely serious side. There is an attempt to portray the plight of the displaced Jews with care and much pathos. It works, more or less. The Jewish Ghetto is given enough attention that the viewer develops a connection with them as they attempt to get on with their lives. Maurice Moscovitch as Mr. Jaeckel is particularly effective. Paulette Goddard plays Hannah as a rather dim, dreamy stumblebum. She's cute, but occasionally annoying. Sometimes, it feels like Chaplin has transported Hannah back to the Wizard of Oz--she speaks in that same half-whimpering, dreamy manner as Judy Garland's Dorothy.
Finally, this film certainly transcends any single political agenda.Read more ›
The Great Dictator is as relevant today as it was when it skewered Hitler and his gang of Fascist bigots back in 1940. It took aim at Hitler but its target could easily be any warmongering regime from any period of history. The parallels are all there. Chaplin addresses each of them and does it well. His character Hynkel is a bumbling and ineffective "leader". He's driven by greed. As the film unfolds it's obvious his greed is rooted in feelings of inferiority. The more his mouth moves the less he says. His economic policies are a disaster-to wage war he has to borrow money from the "enemy". He is petty beyond belief. Ultimately, without an "enemy" to point toward, he's nothing. His entire mantra-loss of liberty, racial persecution, lust for control and so on-is all for one thing: he has to cover the fact that he can't rise to the level of the most humble of those he torments. This is a fundamental truth about people who lust for conquest. Chaplin illustrates it brilliantly.
The film isn't perfect. Chaplin and his crew weren't entirely comfortable when working with sound. Many scenes have dialogue but lack background noise. It was a common fault of the time though. The players have an assortment of accents. The Tomanians (with the exception of Herring) sound British.Read more ›