Twenty years after the end of WWI in which the nation of Tomainia was on the losing side, Adenoid Hynkel has risen to power as the ruthless dictator of the country. He believes in a pure Aryan state, and the decimation of the Jews. This situation is unknown to a simple Jewish-Tomainian barber who has since been hospitalized the result of a WWI battle. Upon his release, the barber, who had been suffering from memory loss about the war, is shown the new persecuted life of the Jews by many living in the Jewish ghetto, including a washerwoman named Hannah, with whom he begins a relationship. The barber is ultimately spared such persecution by Commander Schultz, who he saved in that WWI battle. The lives of all Jews in Tomainia are eventually spared with a policy shift by Hynkel himself, who is doing so for ulterior motives. But those motives include a want for world domination, starting with the invasion of neighboring Osterlich, which may be threatened by Benzino Napaloni, the dictator ... Written by
Production on the film started in 1937, when not nearly as many people believed Nazism was a menace as was the case when it was released in 1940. However, this film was ultimately upstaged as the first anti-Nazi film satire by The Three Stooges production You Nazty Spy! (1940) which was released nine months earlier. See more »
When Hannah has tomatoes thrown at her by the soldiers, she has 3 prominent streaks of dirt on her right cheek as she cowers down to protect herself. When she gets up after the attack, the dirt is missing from her cheek. See more »
Note, any resemblance between Hynkle the Dictator and the Jewish Barber is purely co-incidental.
This is a story of a period between two World Wars - an interim in which Insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and Humanity was kicked around somewhat.
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The film is obviously a satire on Adolf Hitler, represented by Adenoid Hynkel, and its story is based on Hynkel looking exactly like "a Jewish barber": both are played by Charles Chaplin. But it begins with a notice: "Any resemblance between Hynkel the dictator and the Jewish barber is purely co-incidental". See more »
This film entered production before WW2 began, but was not released until it was well under way. With significant fascist-sympathy in the US, and Chaplin himself being suspected as a communist sympathiser, The Great Dictator was a very courageous endeavour. Such risks in film-making - thinly veiled political statements - would be almost inconceivable today. Imagine the fallout if someone were to make an equally satirical film today which criticised the USA's foreign policy?
This film is hilarious, poignant and tragic. The tragedy is that Chaplin makes a plea for the madness to end, but it is already to late - for him and for us. A must see if you have any interest whatsoever in history, film-making, politics or sattire as an art-form.
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