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The Great Dictator (Criterion Collection)

Charlie Chaplin , Jack Oakie , Charlie Chaplin    G (General Audience)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 32.99
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The Great Dictator (Criterion Collection) + Modern Times (Criterion Collection) + Gold Rush (The Criterion Collection)
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Since Adolf Hitler had the audacity to borrow his mustache from the most famous celebrity in the world--Charlie Chaplin--it meant Hitler was fair game for Chaplin's comedy. (Strangely, the two men were born within four days of each other.) The Great Dictator, conceived in the late thirties but not released until 1940, when Hitler's war was raging across Europe, is the film that skewered the tyrant. Chaplin plays both Adenoid Hynkel, the power-mad ruler of Tomania, and a humble Jewish barber suffering under the dictator's rule. Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's wife at the time, plays the barber's beloved; and the rotund comedian Jack Oakie turns in a weirdly accurate burlesque of Mussolini, as a bellowing fellow dictator named Benzino Napaloni, Dictator of Bacteria. Chaplin himself hits one of his highest moments in the amazing sequence where he performs a dance of love with a large inflated globe of the world. Never has the hunger for world domination been more rhapsodically expressed. The slapstick is swift and sharp, but it was not enough for Chaplin. He ends the film with the barber's six-minute speech calling for peace and prophesying a hopeful future for troubled mankind. Some critics have always felt the monologue was out of place, but the lyricism and sheer humanity of it are still stirring. This was the last appearance of Chaplin's Little Tramp character, and not coincidentally it was his first all-talking picture. --Robert Horton

Special Features

Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft's absorbing documentary, "The Tramp and the Dictator," backgrounds Chaplin and Hitler (who were born a few days apart) and gives a detailed account of The Great Dictator's production. Twenty-five minutes of color footage, shot by Chaplin's brother Sydney on the set, provides a fascinating look behind the scenes. --Robert Horton

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
This film is an excellent piece of anti-axis propaganda in the guise of a hilarious satire of totalitarianism. Chaplin portays two characters who's resemblance to one another is merely coincidental. One is a Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania with a jewish name, the other a Jewish barber with impeccable instincts for sussing out trouble. Overall, "The Great Dictator" attempts to demonstrate the idiocy of war. By turning the key players into buffoons, it portays the war machine as a circus. This film is much more than a lampoon of the Nazis, however. The silliest characature of all is of Benito Mussolini. Jack Oakie's portrayal of the Dictator of Bacteria, Benzino Napaloni, is the highlight of the film. He's like a stereotype of one of those "larger-than-life" tourists who bluster with absolute authority wherever he goes. It is really hard not to picture him in the loudest hawaiian shirt know to man. It is really obscenely funny. The interaction between the two dictators provides the most sustained lunacy in the film. Their attempts to one-up one another are just brilliant.
"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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genius of Chaplin. April 4 2004
Format:DVD
One look at Charlie Chaplin's filmography leaves little doubt as to his genius. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy all his films, even the more obscure ones that weren't necessarily box office hits. But of all his films I believe "The Great Dictator" to be his masterpiece. "The Gold Rush" may have been the film in which he wanted to be remembered, and it is certainly a great film, but this film is working on so many levels as to seem superior to me. Sufficed to say, I love satire. This film is loaded with satirical referrences and subtle and not-so-subtle wit and clever word-play as well as all the brilliant physical humor that initially made Chaplin famous. There is so much intelligence in this film that it is easy for me to praise and recommend. I could relate scenes that I absolutely loved, but there are too many to name; and I certainly don't want to ruin all the comedic surprises for those who have yet to see this film. Even after ten viewings I find myself laughing at Chaplin's antics: verbal and physical humor of the highest level. In fact, I guarrantee laughter. There is so much humor here, of so many varieties, that there is no doubt in my mind that anyone viewing this film for the first time with giggle, chuckle, then laugh heartily. Oh, how I envy those first-time viewers. What a magnificent film! Hail Chaplin!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Live, Laugh and Lesrn Feb. 25 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Great performances in 2 roles. Classic Chaplin Tramp character with a blend of the dictator all wrapped up with just the right level of comedy. A fantastic closing speech asking people to live a good life and to be good to your fellow man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars All is good except ... Aug. 15 2013
By LP
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The blu-ray restoration is excellent. The performance is great! However, the ending is a letdown on the part of Charlie Chaplin. He is best at performing art. The forced political statement at the end destoys the artistic flow of the movie. By today's standard, it's pure propaganda. Therefore, a 4 out of 5 star rating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good Movie June 3 2013
By Roller
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Movie is quite good. Even today there are parts of it that are still worth remembering. For anyone who has studied the History around Nazi Germany, and specially "The Triumph of The Will". "The Great Dictator" is a fine movie. Charlie Chaplin did a fine job on the Film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Dictator (Criterion Collection) July 20 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This classic is tasty and enjoyable allways. I have watched it at least half a dozen times, and every time it is like new.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant for Any Age June 13 2004
Format:DVD
DVD is the perfect medium for many of Chaplin's films. He demanded a lot from his audience. Each film carries it's own message. Each section of a film addresses a part of that film's message. Every facet of a work has a purpose. He lightened the load through the use of humour. The viewer has to be thinking every minute though. It's possible to watch these films time and again, or to watch different segments repeatedly and keep finding something more. They really are that complex. Fortunately, the DVD medium makes doing that easy.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Olly Moss cover art can only mean good things
Olly Moss is a brilliant minimalist poster designer. His work appears in Empire Magazine and can be readily found online. Read more
Published on July 28 2011 by CharlieReviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie. Still funny (and relevant) - Excessive price in Canada
HI,

This movie is still funny and timely today. Some great classic scenes (the bouncing globe scene is still amazing). Read more
Published on May 25 2011 by Hoodfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Spans the generation's and very very funny
One of the funniest films I've watched. It's got the funniness of the his silent films and the best bits of all the Adolf Hitler/World War 2 comic sketches that you've seen... Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2010 by Ben Nicholson
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Charles Chaplin
I love this movie, I've watched it so many times, and still laugh. Charlie Chaplin was/is a brillient film maker, and very clever, and a amazing comedian. Love all his pictures. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2007 by Shen
2.0 out of 5 stars Look up Hanna
"The soul of man has been given wings"

This movie is hyped up causing some sort of frenzy; someone calls it a classic or likes the thought that someone is mocked, and... Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2005 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tramp for a New Generation
Most have heard of Chaplin. Though many have not seen an entire movie of Chaplin's. This collection is a great way to expose and introduce a younger generation to the visual... Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by Pabster
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent films and magnificent man
Charles Chaplin was the greatst cinematic genius of the 20th century. His brilliance was celebrated and recognized for decades, but then America brutally turned against him. Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by Candace Scott
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