Last Thursday I went to one of Vienna’s cosy old cinemas. In the course of a Jewish film festival they showed “The Great Dictator” a movie I hadn’t seen so far but always wanted to watch. Charlie Chaplin created a satirical political comedy drama parodying the events of the second World War.
A Jewish Barber who fights in the first World War is injured. When he is released years later he thinks no time has passed while in reality the nation of Tomainia now has a dictator Hynkel who suppresses the Jews. It takes sometime until he realises how the world has changed in his absence.
A bit later a high-ranking officer named Schultz has to go into hiding. The barber had saved his life during the first World War and now teams up with him again.
In the mean time Hynkel wants to invade Osterlich but has a problem as the Bacterian army is already at the border. He meets dictator Napaloni to settle who gets to invade.
However, during their escape the barber gets mistaken for the dictator and holds a breath-taking speech about humanity.
This movie is a masterpiece. It is extraordinary how Charlie Chaplin mocked the entire World War without losing respect in face of the cruelties. He incorporates fun as marvellously as the horror. The allusions to the real German dictator and his officers are very elaborate.
Chaplin himself excels in both roles – the barber and the dictator. The whole movie would be worth watching just for Chaplin speeches as dictator, held in a language made up of German and English.
It’s somewhat unbelievable that somebody dared to make a movie like this in 1940. Another point that deeply impresses me.
This movie is a must-watch for everybody!