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Charlie Chaplin The Great Dictator

The film was well received in the United States at the time of its release, and was popular with the American public. For example, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "a truly superb accomplishment by a truly great artist" and "perhaps the most significant film ever produced."[30] The film was also popular in the United Kingdom, drawing 9 million to the cinemas,[31] despite Chaplin's fears that wartime audiences would dislike a comedy about a dictator. The film earned theater rentals of $3.5 million from the U.S. and Canada[32] and $5 million in total worldwide rentals.[2]

Charlie Chaplin The Great Dictator

In 1938, the world's most famous movie star began to prepare afilm about the monster of the 20th century. Charlie Chaplin looked a littlelike Adolf Hitler, in part because Hitler had chosen the same toothbrushmoustache as the Little Tramp. Exploiting that resemblance, Chaplin devised asatire in which the dictator and a Jewish barber from the ghetto would bemistaken for each other. The result, released in 1940, was "The GreatDictator," Chaplin's first talking picture and the highest-grossing of hiscareer, although it would cause him great difficulties and indirectly lead tohis long exile from the United States.

Between WWI and WWII, a title tells us up front, insanity reigns and humanity "got kicked about a bit" in a suspiciously German-looking country called Tomania. The great Charlie Chaplin plays dual roles. One is a nameless, hapless Jewish barber, who dutifully (if ineptly) fights for his nation in the First World War and suffers amnesia. When he recovers he finds all Jews herded into ghettoes and persecuted, scapegoated for the country's economic woes under the policies of a look-alike, mustached pipsqueak dictator Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin) and his fascist advisors. While the strutting Hynkel dreams of world conquest, builds palaces, meets with the equally pompous dictator of a rival empire called Bacteria (think Mussolini's Italy) and gears up for an invasion, the barber's lucky WWI friendship with a high-ranking Tomanian military officer lands him in and out of trouble.

Families can talk about the rise of the Third Reich and Mussolini's Italy, and how Charlie Chaplin skillfully turned some of the most frightening real-life villains into buffoons. You could research the other sorts of movies coming out at the time, from Axis Germany, Italy, Japan, and the USSR -- and how they served their own "great dictators'" aims. While some movies from Nazi Berlin certainly did glorify fascism (check out Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, if you dare), others were deliberately non-political, meant to take the average citizen's mind off war. Ask kids if they think Chaplin's pointed comedy holds up well today, or is a WWII relic. Who are today's "great dictators"? And who are the comedians today that make them into buffoons?

My problems with The Great Dictator probably stem mostly from the pacing. I found the parts with Hynkel and the more important fake Nazis great, but the parts with the barber and all his friends slow thing down towards the end. The dictator half of the film remain fresh and creative throughout, but the situations the barber finds himself in never engaged me in the same way. So by the time the last third of the film began, I found myself groaning when the film switched back to the barber. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if it ran closer to 90 minutes, like Modern Times, instead of the 124 minutes, which I felt every second of. 041b061a72

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