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The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin)

Before the horrors of the Holocaust became evident, Charlie ChaplinÆs The Great Dictator, advocating the forces of democracy to collectively stand against fascism, found its way into theaters. Ironically, production of the film began on September 3, 1939, the day Britain and France declared war on Germany. Prior to WWII, BritainÆs policy of appeasement and the U.S. policy of isolationism did little to persuade Chaplin against making the film. A parody of HitlerÆs and MussoliniÆs fascism, Britain announced it would not release the film for fear of angering Hitler, while the film was immediately banned by Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. A political idealist, Chaplin knew how to exploit film to clearly draw the line between ôthemö and ôusö, a filmmaker determined to make the world view fascism as he saw it. Dan James, a script writer for The Great Dictator, said of Chaplin, ôHe believed in human freedom and human dignityö (Cole 2001, 142).

The plot of The Great Dictator involves a Jewish barber, who is mistaken for the anti-Semitic dictator, Adenoid Hynkel, of the militaristic nation of Tomania. After awakening from amnesia suffered in WWI, the Jewish barber returns to his barbershop, only to discover that under the banner of the Double Cross, Hynkel, to whom he bears a remarkable resemblance, has become dictator. HynkelÆs storm troopers delight in persecuting Jews, including the barber, and Hynkel aims at becoming emperor of the world. Hynkel desires the conquest of peace-loving Osterlich, but must work out an agreement with fellow dictator Benzino Napaloni, ruler of Bacteria. The barber and a former leader of the storm troopers, Commander Schultz, work out a plot to assassinate Hynkel. SchultzÆs allegiance is turned by the fact that Hynkel is persecuting the Jews and from the knowledge that the barber saved his life during WWI.

The plot is discovered and Hynkel sets fire to the Jewish Ghetto. Hannah and o...

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The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin). (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:56, November 30, 2021, from