Hystorical analysis:


The comic element is a dominating element in this film. Chaplin denounces Nazism with a light touch.

For example, the speech at the beginning of the film, where Hynkel is the representation of Hitler, profoundly anti-semitic, he delievers numerous insults to the Jews, which are translated only by: " Our Excellence has just said some words on the Jews."

Also, Hitler hated children. We see this when Hynkel dries his hands carefully after having touched one. Charles Chaplin has placed in his film numerous allusions to the practices of the Nazis. We find concentration camps, Gestapo, the invasion of Austria or authority aggravated by Hitler.

Indeed this film is a caricature of the reality of the 1940s, during the Second World War. Tomania is a representation of Germany; Adénoïde Hynkel is Adolf Hitler's caricature; Benzino Napoloni that of Benito Mussolini.

The banner of the Nazi party in the film contains two crosses, while in the reality, this one carries only a swastika. The hynkel's suit looks strongly like the Hitlerian traditional costume did. The physical appearance also stresses the resemblance: Hitler's characteristic mustache, hairstyle, brown eyes and dark eyebrows. The mimes as the imitation of the Hitlerian salute, the way of expressing himself, violent and jerky and the superior attitude towards all other men characterized Hitler in his lifetime.

Also, Benzino Napoloni is only Benito's Mussolini imitation. He also possesses the characteristics of a dictator.

Bactéria represents Italy in this film and Österlich represents Austria.

When Hynkel has fun with a ball in the shape of globe, he makes it burst; representing a powerful director.

By this image, Charles Chaplin hints at the facts that Hitler "plays" with the future of the humanity that he eventually destroys.

We can also find another symbol later in the film where Hynkel climbs on curtains, stressing the side alienated by Hitler.

The final speech lasts 8 minutes. This speaking time is, for the first time during the film, a message directly sent to the spectator. We notice that the Jewish barber excels so much than the dictator Hynkel in the public speaking. Thanks to this strength of conviction, he creates so much enthusiasm in the spectator as the propaganda speech of Hynkel, at any beginning of film. At the beginning of this one, the barber feels ill at ease, he does not know how to express himself. But, in the course of the speech, he sets of and the words occur to him as if they went out of the bottom of its heart. He evokes his dreams, a world there where all the beings are equal. He addresses the people, then the millions of people worldwide thanks to the radio (invention the nature of which " is an appeal to the kindness of the man, an appeal to  universal brotherhood, to the unity of all "). from the beginning of this speech, we are surprised because we do not attend the meeting so waited between Hynkel and Charlot.

Any fictional character eventually fades. We even have the impression as this last one is not conscious of his presence in front of the crowd. He tries to prove to himself that he isn't dreaming. His raised fist became the gesture of the surprised or distraught man who places a hand on a skull to prove that he still has all his head, that it is very real and not a dream. Charlie Chaplin's courage is shown through this long 'short' speech.

This final speech is considered as being humanist. He was criticized by the communists who blamed him for being too engaged. He indeed was a pacifist and didactic purpose.

Certain contemporaries, thought that the final speech of the barber was simply naive.




Cinematographical analysis:


Charles Chaplin realized numerous films among which " The Gold Rush " in 1925, then " The Circus " in 1929 and " Modern Times " in 1974. It was an icon of cinema comedy.

The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first talking film. It was released in 1940 in New York but was censored in Europe where it was brought out later in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. This censorship was due to the caricature of the Nazis and the present fascists in " The Great Dictator ". In 1938, when Charles Chaplin wrote the scenario of the film, the German ambassador in the United States as well as pro-Nazi groups protested. Indeed, Charles Chaplin had choosen his camp; he asserted that Hitler would had stolen his moustache. He announced to Bazin: " Consider that " the Dictator " would have been impossible if Hitler had been hairless or if he had a Clark Gable moustache " With the Modern Times film, Charles Chaplin begin the opening of talking pictures to the world we know it today. The Great Dictator was the first real film of it's Kind (Genre).

Through elements like music we see his direction, we notice that his work still carries some stigmas of the silent movies. Indeed, it plays an important role in this film allowing creation and emphasizing the diverse deliberate atmospheres. Sound effects also have a dominating place in this film.

The lighting does not have much importance because it was filmed in black and white. However, we observe a progressive increase of the luminosity during some scenes and some are also darkened thus producing the desired effect on the spectator. From the first scenes of the film, the spectator is directly immersed in the comic register with for example, the scene with the cannon, where Chaplin loses control of the situation and the one with the plane, where he turns upsidedown without noticing it.

Several details show Hynkel's thoughts by making a fool of him:

  • During his speeches as the dictator, Chaplin expresses himself in a language of his invention which resembles German which allows subject to many comic effects. This is strengthened by comments enriched by the interpreter (for example: " his excellence has just said some words on the Jews " while Hynkel was rather violent in its speech.) - the present statues on the avenue on the return to the speech of Hynkel. (The characters make the Nazi salute)

 The Venus of today and the Thinker of tomorow both made the German salute.

The intrigue of this film is relatively simple: we follow in parallel the difficult life of a Jew in the ghetto and that of Hynkel, a dictator aiming at spreading his influence on the world. This simplistic vision of the situation allows Chaplin to denounce in a summary the danger Hitler represented.

Charles Chaplin embodies at the same time the dictator of Tomania and the Jewish barber.The resemblance between the dictator Hynkel and the Jewish barber is a pure coincidence . This ironic note at the beginning of the film advances the idea that these two characters are not so different: they are just men.This film was being shot in a context of a world war, it was censored first of all in numerous countries, in particular in France and in Germany (until 1945), as well as in Spain until 1975 before knowing a global popular success. In 1941 however, it was nominated at the Oscars in England where it was not censored. Hynkels final speech was criticized in the United States though for its humanist and communist tendencies. Let us note that Hitler viewed this film sevral times in private projection.

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