The Great Dictator

Friday, January 13 - Monday, January 16, 2017

DCP projection

After the onset of hostilities in Europe, but before the US’s entry into WWII, the most famous movie star of the century launched his most ambitious and controversial project to date-a take-no-prisoners satirical attack on Hitler and Fascism. Chaplin produced, wrote, directed and starred in the film, playing both the barely-disguised, buffoonish Tomanian dictator Adenoid Hynkel and an unassuming Jewish barber who’s his spitting image. The cast is rounded out by Jack Oakie, peerlessly lampooning Mussolini, and Paulette Goddard, Chaplin’s muse, as an innocent young woman threatened by the tyrant’s anti-Semitism.

Both a radical departure-undeniably political, it’s also his first talkie-and a classic Chaplin comedy, replete with such signature comic bits as the power-mad Hynkel’s waltz with a globe, THE GREAT DICTATOR proved both enormously popular and deeply controversial. Attacked by right-wing isolationists, Chaplin was even subpoenaed by a Senate subcommittee to testify about violating neutrality-until such concerns were swept aside when the nation joined the fight against Fascism. In later years, he explored his motivations for taking on such a risky subject: “I was beginning to have the impression that I’d been swept away by a political avalanche,” wrote Chaplin in his autobiography. “I began to wonder why: to what point was I stimulated by the actor within me and by the reactions of a flesh and blood audience? Would I have thrown myself into this quixotic adventure if I hadn’t made an anti-Nazi film? Was it the sublimation of all my furies and all my dislike of sound pictures? I imagine that all these elements had a part in it, but the strongest was still my hate and contempt for the Fascist regime.”

“A truly great achievement by a truly great artist.” – The New York Times

Screening as part of Autocratic for the People: an Unpresidented Series of Star-Spangled Satires

  • Country USA
  • Running Time 120 minutes
  • Director Charles Chaplin

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