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
Charles Chaplin cast his wife Paulette Goddard as the female lead, playing a cleaner. He insisted that she scrub the floor of the whole set only for her to refuse. Chaplin stopped filming until she agreed to do so. (Their relationship was on the rocks at this stage, which could explain his treatment of her.) See more »
(at around 29 mins) When the Jewish Barber first finds his shop full of webs, you can see the shadow of the camera on his left shoulder. 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 »
Aside from giving this film its proper socio-historical credit as one of only 2 U.S films which condemned Hitler, Naziism and the Holocaust prior to U.S. involvement in WWII, it's a great time as well. Much of the humor remains visual, and some of the funniest (and most famous) scenes are done in the silent mode (e.g. the globe). Although a bit more lacking in continuity and editing than many of Chaplin's earlier films, to do it credit simply as a passable first effort at a new medium is to damn it with faint praise. It's unique. No serious student of film can neglect to see and appreciate The Great Dictator as a classic amalgam of film talents.
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