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All Critics (38)
| Top Critics (9)
| Fresh (35)
| Rotten (3)
| DVD (9)
The first full-blown talkie from the biggest star of the silent era, complete with a message that Chaplin couldn't have sent more loudly or clearly.
Through no fault of Chaplin's, during the two years he was at work on the picture dictators became too sinister for comedy.
Chaplin is at his most profound in suggesting that there is much of the Tramp in the Dictator, and much of the Dictator in the Tramp.
Like all major Chaplin works, Dictator was a cheaply, but methodically, made film, a cardboard act of humanist defiance, and, thanks to its purity of purpose, the cheesier the jokes get, the harder they land.
It's when he is playing the dictator that the comedian's voice raises the value of the comedy content of the picture to great heights.
The representation of Hitler is vaudeville goonery all the way, but minus the acid wit and inventive energy that Groucho Marx managed.
The lessons remain, and the strength of his statement still inspires his descendants - professional or otherwise - to follow his example.
The only trouble is that such perfect scenes as this are followed by more conventional passages which would be funny enough in an average picture but let one down in a film that deals so ambitiously with so great a theme.
...a great movie because it works as a film, and because it is a document of courage and faith, the prime exhibit in Chaplin's humanist brief ... Dictator is a comedy, the work of a clown, but it is no joke. Chaplin had lethal intent.
While it is not the greatest of Charlie Chaplin's feature films, it is certainly his bravest, if not one of the bravest films ever made.
...stared evil in the face long before the rest of Hollywood even thought it was possible.
Despite the film's weaknesses, Chaplin's lampooning of Hitler is a moment of comic genius, complemented by Jack Oakie's ridiculously exaggerated portrayal of the Mussolini-like Italian fascist
Chaplin's first all-talking picture is this wonderful, hilarious classic that makes a poignant statement against dictatorial regimes with countless memorable moments, from the dictator's speech in incomprehensible German to an unforgettable conclusion.
When watching this film, the first talkie from mega talented filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, it's all so visceral. Your response, neither weathered by time nor the shame of what was happening at that point in time, is primal. Chaplin here is fusing his talents of comedic slapstick and international propaganda so seamlessly, that you can't distinguish the two, and in the midst of those elements is also a flawless interpretation of human suffering and degradation, laced with hope. This film, from the king of silent comedic films, made his coup de grace at this time, unequalled in his commentary of the Nazi Party, because at the time of production it was unpopular to mince words when you were speaking about the Germans. At the time of release however this was a pivotal motivator for all countries, and still stands as a great form of propaganda and art. Where does the humor towards a dictatorship come from, you ask? Well, Chaplin saw the similarities between himself and Hitler, not just in mustaches but in upbringings. Using his off-brand form of humor he floats through scenes as The Tramp (though now labeled as The Barber), upends the government, makes friends with a traitorous former colleague, and has to grasp to understand the evils of the party in power. The dictator uses anti-Semitism for political gain, giving speeches that sound furious and biting, though in reality none of its in proper German (true to Chaplin's sense of humor). While the Barber is an enlightened, strong-willed, and clumsy Jew on the verge of romance with another in the ghetto, Chaplin also portrays the dictator named Hynckel, who is in direct control of the fake country of Tomania. The differences between the two performances are astounding, not just because one is filled with light humor and the other with cloying hatred. Hynckel is savage in his opinion of Jews while not caring about their fate, tries to take over Europe without much thought, treats women as objects, and lives an opulent lifestyle. Some of the scenes truly show the deranged political power of Hynckel while masking any resemblance to Chaplin's adopted tramp. The facts of the Nazis' true terror had not fully come into the public sphere, but many people did know about these horrors. Chaplin denies any knowledge of the realities of the camps and wouldn't have made light of them had he known, though this fact is debated. Either way, what is shown onscreen seems to be of the right atmosphere and a little easier to digest now that it's been seventy odd years. The film balances between sincere odes to intervention and humane love for one another and full out comedy, including an inspired dance between Hynkel and Hitler's famed globe, in balloon form of course. If you know anything about this film already, it's the ending speech that remains famous. Though I didn't know anything of it prior to watching, it was miraculous, inventive, beautiful, and something else altogether, and can be observed as much no matter what. This film is lovely from all angles, so good it's miraculous, and belies its own reputation, simply creating beauty onscreen.
Brilliant comedy classic starring Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator is a well crafted jab at fascism and is the most outspoken film that Chaplin has ever made. This is a brilliant satire, and a must see film that still holds up to this day. With a great cast at hand, Charlie Chaplin crafts a memorable comedy/ drama film that is a must see for cinema buffs. This was the first major talkie of Chaplin as he veered into new territory. This is a fun, entertaining film that also manages to be critical and smart in exposing the worst that fascism has offered. This is a terrific film that will surely please fans of classic movies, as much as comedy lovers. The film blends elements of drama, comedy and political satire brilliantly to create an outstanding picture that has plenty of laughs and an important message to boot. This is among one of the greatest films ever made and it showcases Chaplin's talents perfectly. I would consider this film as one of the first satires ever filmed. With an effective plot, and wonderful acting by its cast, this is a comedy classic that is a memorable viewing experience, if you want a well crafted satire that is smart, witty, funny and above all critical of policies overseas at the time, and then definitely give this classic a viewing. This is among the most important and significant films made in the long history of cinema. Eye opening and well executed, The Great Dictator is a genre defining picture that definitely is worth your time if you love Chaplin's work or if you're getting into his work, and then this is the perfect place to start.
A disappointingly too silly take on an extremely serious subject (Hitler and the destruction of many Jews), concerning a crazed dictator (Charlie Chaplin), who is unaware that there is a Jewish barber (also Chaplin) who looks identical to him, and how the two unavoidably switch places at some point. While the subject of war has been dealt with in a funny, smart manner before (Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove' remains the cream of the crop in that category), this film seems to be about 80 percent slapstick with 20 percent seriousness. It is not a fair balance for a subject like this, although granted the slapstick is largely very, very funny. When it comes time for Chaplin's big speech, there has been too much funny business going on beforehand that it in turn undermines the film's most important point. A better balance of humor and compassion, as well as a heavier dose of anger at these events going on at these times would have made this a defining, legendary film. Instead, to me, it is an occasional funny but overall frustrating one that never lives up to its reputation as a great one.
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