Festival year: 2011
Restored version of Charlie Chaplin’s sharp satire of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Chaplin excels in his double role as a fascist dictator and Jewish hairdresser. He completed The Great Dictator two days after Hitler had declared war on Poland in 1939.
A clumsy soldier (Charlie Chaplin) saves the life of German officer Schultz during the First World War. Due to the traumatic nature of the rescue operation, the soldier is struck with amnesia. After a few years in hospital, he returns to his Jewish neighborhood in his motherland Tomania and reopens his barbershop. Meanwhile, cruel dictator Adenoid Hynkel (also played by Charlie Chaplin) has seized power. Hynkel decides to prosecute all Jews, putting the hairdresser and the local residents’ lives in jeopardy. By pure coincidence, the naive hairdresser is mistaken for the dictator...
During the shooting of The Great Dictator, the British government announced its intention to ban the screening. Once the film was completed, however, the kingdom had already gone to war with Germany and The Great Dictator was used for propaganda purposes. The film was banned, though, in all countries under German occupation, censorship that lasted until 1975 in Spain. Charlie Chaplin later declared that he would never have made the film if he had been aware at the time of the Nazi genocide that was to follow.
United States 1950, 125 min.
Spoken language: English
Charles Chpalin Productions