Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sight & Sound Challenge: The Great Dictator (1940)

Film: The Great Dictator (11/250)
Critics Poll: 144th
Directors Poll: 174th
First Time/Rewatch: Rewatch

I love love love this film. It's definitely my favorite Chaplin film, probably because it was my first and most frequently watched Chaplin film. It's just so funny, despite the subject matter. Chaplin plays dual roles of a Hitler-esque dictator and a Jewish barber. The scenes of him as Hynkel yelling German-ish gibberish in a microphone and snarling are so ridiculous, it feels like you're laughing right in Hitler's face. Chaplin's full range of talents are on display here, from his physical comedy to his penchant for speeches. The famous globe dance he does as Hynkel is legendary for a reason...it's so elegant and twisted. And then, at the end of the film, the Jewish barber, disguised as the dictator, gives a speech. He gets up to the microphone, and suddenly it's not Hynkel or the Jewish barber. It's Chaplin himself, speaking to all of us about loving each other. Some call it sappy, some call it communist propaganda, all I know is that it never fails to move me. 
It's said that Hitler himself watched this movie alone, twice. I can only imagine what he thought. 

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