On Wednesday, January 24th, Madame Beaulieu’s Humanities Juniors (1L1) went to the cinema Jean Gabin to watch the film classic "The Great Dictator" and some students volunteered to write film reviews. Mme Beaulieu is truly thankful for their efforts.
The Great Dictator, Film review by Jenna M. in 1L1
The Great Dictator is one of the most famous movies of Charles Chaplin. So, it’s an American film, it’s satirical and it was released just before America’s entry into World War II in 1940. This movie is at the same time a social drama and a burlesque comedy. Chaplin tries to imitate Hitler’s actions, the German nazi dictator and to recreate the situation of Germany during the beginning of te war. The prominent actors are Chaplin who plays Adenoïd Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, an imaginary country, he also plays a Jewish barber who is a soldier. Jack Oakie plays Benzino Napoleoni. They are both inspired by the famous dictators Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Finally, there is Paulette Goddard who plays Hannah, a young jewish woman. It’s important to notice that The Great Dictator is the first real talking movie of Chaplin.
A the beginning of the movie, it’s mentioned that the similarity between the characters is co-incidental. In fact, it’s a parody of the famous sentence « Any resemblance between the real people and fictionnal characters is purely co-incidental » to reaffirm that it’s a real fictionnal film. Indeed, it’s very sarcastic because there is a great resemblance between Hitler and Chaplin because of the mustache.
The story is : During the first World War, a soldier of Tomania is hurt, he stays in the hospital for twenty years. When he returns to his ghetto and tries to recover his store, he learns that his country is now governed by a dictator. Similarly, he falls in love with a beautiful woman, Hannah. Luckily, they are protected from the military and the concentration camps by an officer. Unfortunately, it does not last, the barber is commissioned to go to the camp. During this time, the tyrant extends his power. But the barber manages to escape from the camp. Finally, he deceives German soldiers and he replaces the dictator and delivers a speech praising democracy and tolerance. The film finishes like that.
Chaplin wants to caricature Hitler. For this, he is very aggressive during his speech, we also see the submission of the public who applauds at any moment and stops as soon as Hynkel raises his hand. Chaplin succeeds in criticizing the nazi dictator with humor, for example the scene when Hynkel plays with the globe, his gesture is very funny but in fact , it has a tremendous symbolic power, it means that dictators play with the world they have in their hands. At the beginning, of the film Chaplin wears his large pants and his tight jacket, also he is not very talkative, the famous « Charlot » is still here.
The talent of Chaplin makes The Great Dictator a wonderful movie whether it’s in form or substance. The alternation of humor and tragic scenes makes the film very entertaining. The release of the film was very bold because of the political context. This risk-taking strengthens the myth of Charlie Chaplin. Now this film is considered as a masterpiece and I agree.
PS : Hitler watched this film more than once, while it was censored in Germany. This fact proves the impact and the power of this movie.
The Great Dictator, Film review by Djani B. in 1L1
The Great Dictator is a masterpiece and also a film that has not aged much, the film is from 1940. Funny and realistic this film denounces the nazi oppression, yet the discourse of Charlie Chaplin at the end is still valid nowadays. Many situations are funny and original. In fact, he denounces the nazi threat to humanity, democracy and the Jewish people, but he makes a total mockery of Hitler and presents him as a megalomaniac and an object of ridicule. His allusions are barely veiled, Hitler becomes Hynkel, Mussolini becomes Napolini and the swastika is replaced by two crosses one above the other. We will follow the fate of two men, both wonderfully interpreted by Chaplin a Jewish barber, who returns to a Jewish ghetto. After spending time in a hospital where he was an amnesiac after a trauma during the first world war, he didn’t know that his country had changed. Tomania replaces Germany and he also plays the dictator of this country Hynkel. Whether with his repetitive gags or burlesque his humor works wonders.
The Great Dictator, Film review by Myriam B. in 1L1
The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin is an American cult movie released in 1940. The prominent actors in this movie are Charlie Chaplin, Benzino Napaloni and Hannah. Charlie Chaplin played the main character. He played Hitler and managed to be his lookalike by having the same mustache and tie. Charles Spencer Chaplin also called “The Tramp” (Charlot in French) was born in 1889 maybe in London and died in 1977 at 88 years old in Switzerland. He was a director, composer, writer and producer.
Also, it’s a satirical film, whose theme is art, literature and politics. It was made in order to show us that there is a strong possibility that a war is going on in Europe and somehow showed us how it could happen. Charlie Chaplin was a director, comedian like no other, very unique including his movies that are silent and his exaggeration. Charles is a worker on the chain to the law of Taylorism ; he becomes crazy and loses his mind because of the machines. Thereafter, he finds a job but then loses it. He meets a housekeeper called Hannah and thanks to her, he finds a barber job. Finally, the police was looking after them but they flee side by side.
Besides, they presented the film to the public in an exaggerated and ironic way. I think that the choice of clothes is completely in line with the film because, at first, Charles plays the role of a soldier and wears a skimpy jacket, a pair of trousers too wide, a helmet and shoes. Then the day the president or politician drives, he is dressed in a cravat shirt with a long jacket and to finish, he also plays the barber by being dressed in a white coat. The places were mostly unreal like the scene where Charles was on a plane. The background music was well fitted with the scenes. There was a decent amount of music, which made the watching pleasant and kept our attention.
To sum up, in my opinion, it’s a movie that shows us the war from the usual point of view but does not put enough emphasis on women’s role. I liked Charlie Chaplin’s role because he had enough courage to represent the war and the holocaust in order to "prepare" us for what could happen again in Europe. Finally, I did not appreciate the role of the main character named Hannah because she played the housewife (household, kitchen, linen...). To conclude, I think the fact that the film was made during that period shows the place of the man and the woman in a different way from the one we have today.
The Great Dictator, Film review by Angela S. in 1L1
"The Great Dictator" is a comedy with Charlie Chaplin, Jack Oakie and Paulette Goddard who plays "the barber", "Adenoid Hynkel", "Benzino Napoloni" and "Hannah".This is the story of a Jewist barber, who become an amesiac, who discovers that his country is ruled by a dictator ; Adenoid Hynkel.The barber befriends Hannah and they dream of being exiled into a free country ; Osterlich. But Hynkel wants to invade Osterlich before Napoloni.
The costume design fits the style of the movie. The background looks realistic and the places are well chosen. The background music fits the scenes, it wasn’t over or under-used and it was nice to listen to.
Chaplin uses satire and comedy to make fun of Hitler. And this film is both entertaining, moving and it can make the spectator feel how dangerous the dictator was.