The Great Dictator (English The Great Dictator ) is an American film of 1940 written, directed and starring the British Charles Chaplin . Chaplin was the only filmmaker in Hollywood who continued to make silent films when sound was already fully implanted in movies, and this was his first sound film , and also the mostsuccessful.
At the time of its release, the United States had not yet entered into war with Nazi Germany , but the film was already a fierce and controversial condemnation against Nazism , fascism , anti-Semitism and dictatorships in general. In the film, Chaplin defines the Nazis as “machine-men, with brains and machine hearts.”
Chaplin plays two roles, on the one hand the dictator Adenoid Hynkel (parody of Adolf Hitler ) and on the other hand is a Jewish barber. The latter has many similarities with the most famous character of Chaplin, the vagabond Charlot . Although it is not specified whether it is him or not, it is generally considered that in this film occurs the last appearance of Charlot. The feature film received five nominations in the 13th edition of the Oscar Awards , but did not win any.
During a battle that took place in the last months of World War I , a Jewish soldier from the fictional nation of Tomania and barber by profession ( Charles Chaplin ) saves the life of Officer Schultz ( Reginald Gardiner ) by helping him escape in his Plane, but they are in an accident and the plane crashes. Both survive, but the soldier loses his memory. At that moment some doctors announce to Schultz that the war is over and Tomania has lost.
Twenty years later, and still amnesiac, the soldier escapes from the hospital where he has remained all that time and returns to his city, where he reopens his old barbershop located in the ghetto , ignoring that times have changed. The country is ruled by the ruthless dictator Adenoid Hynkel ( Charles Chaplin ), assisted by the Minister of the Interior Garbitsch ( Henry Daniell , a parody of Joseph Goebbels ) and the Minister of War Herring ( Billy Gilbert , parody of Hermann Göring ), and there A brutal discrimination against the Jews. The symbol of the regime of Hynkel is the “double cross” (parody of the swastika Nazi), and Hynkel she speaks in a language macarrónico imitation of German.
The barber, unaware of Hynkel’s rise to power, is surprised when assault forces paint the word “Jew” on the windows of his premises. One of the ghetto’s inhabitants, the beautiful Hannah ( Paulette Goddard ), defends the barber when he is harassed by members of the security forces. Both fall in love and must suffer the abuses of the dictatorship, although Schultz, who now occupies a high position in the government of Hynkel, recognizes the barber and orders the troops not to disturb the inhabitants of the ghetto. In addition, Hynkel orders the cessation of the persecution to the Jews while it tries to obtain a loan of a Jewish banker to finance its plans of global domination.
Hynkel plans to invade Osterlich, the neighboring country, and needs the loan to finance the invasion. When the Jewish banker refuses to give the loan, Hynkel resumes and intensifies the violence against the Jews. Schultz, protector of the Jews, shows his rejection to the pogrom and Hynkel, considering it a traitor and a defender of the democracy, orders that it is sent to a concentration camp . Schultz flees and hides in the ghetto. There, with the help of the barber, Hannah and the other inhabitants of the ghetto, seeks to overthrow Hynkel and his regime. Assault forces attack the ghetto and the barber and Schultz are finally sent to the concentration camp.
Hynkel continues with his plans to invade Osterlich, but the meddling of Benzino Napaloni ( Jack Oakie , parody of Benito Mussolini ), the dictator of Bacteria, forces him to invite him to visit him and be diplomatic with him, although everything leads to a ridiculous War of food and cakes between the two dictators. Meanwhile, Hannah and the inhabitants of the ghetto flee towards Osterlich, but soon the invasion begins from Tomania and they are again living under the regime of Hynkel.
The barber and Schultz escape from the camp dressed in Tomania uniforms. The border guards confuse the barber with Hynkel, with whom he looks almost identical. Meanwhile, Hynkel is mistaken for the barber and stopped by mistake by his own troops. The barber, under the identity of Hynkel, is led to the capital of Osterlich to give a speech on the beginning of the conquest of the world. Garbitsch, introducing “Hynkel” to the multitude, decrees the annexation of Osterlich to Tomania, the annulment of freedom of expression and submission of the Jews. However, the barber makes a poignant speech, against Hynkel’s anti-Semitic policies and declaring that Tomania and Osterlich will become free and democratic nations. It also makes a call to humanity in general to end dictatorships and use science and progress to make the world a better place.
Hannah, at home ravaged by the invaders, hears the barber’s speech on the radio, and is surprised when “Hynkel” refers directly to her:
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah! The clouds are moving away, the sun is appearing, we are leaving the darkness towards the light, we are walking towards a new world, a world of goodness, in which men will rise above hatred, ambition, brutality ! Look up, Hannah, the soul of man has been given wings and at last is beginning to fly, is flying towards the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future, a glorious future, which belongs to you To you, to me, to all! Look up, Hannah, look up!
Hannah looks up at the sky with hope, and her face closes the screen.
- Charles Chaplin – The Jewish Barber / Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania
- Paulette Goddard – Hannah
- Jack Oakie – Benzino Napoloni, dictator of Bacteria
- Reginald Gardiner – Schultz
- Henry Daniell – Garbitsch
- Billy Gilbert – Herring
- Maurice Moscovich – Mr. Jaeckel
- Emma Dunn – Mrs. Jaeckel
- Bernard Gorcey – Mr. Mann
The main political figures refer to:
- Adenoid Hynkel: Adolf Hitler
- Benzino Napolini: Benito Mussolini
- Garbitsch: Joseph Goebbels
- Herring: Hermann Wilhelm Göring