Sir Charles chaplin known famously for his comic representation of the characters in the silent movies of the 30’s and 40’s has come up with a splendid performance in the 1940 classic “The Great Dictator”. In this movie Charles chaplin plays the dual role of Hynkel – The ruthless dictator of Tomania and a Jewish Barber. The role of Hynkel has been visualised keeping in mind the ruthless dictator Hitler and his mannerisms. The role of a Jewish Barber is a natural role and an extension of Chaplin whom we have seen in lots of movies before.
The movie begins with a disclaimer that this story has taken place somewhere after the end of the first world war and the beginning of the second world war. The Jewish Barber a veteran of the first world war during his days at the warfront saves a military pilot Shultz (Reginald Gardiner) and on their way back their plane crashes and the barber ends up being in coma for close to a decade.
The Barber then returns to his place in the Jewish Ghetto which is now ruled by Hynkel and his main aim is to wash away the Jews from Tomania. The Barber enters his shop which is covered by cobwebs and he starts afresh in his profession. One fine day the barber gets into major trouble with the soldiers and he is brought before the commanding officer who incidentally happens to be Schultz. The Ghetto then enjoys protection and they lead a happy life till things turn worse in Hynkel’s camp where Schultz gets falsely implicated for being a traitor.
Hynkel now wanting to become the dictator of the world has a meeting with Napaloni (Jack Oakie) the dictator of Bacteria (again a spoof on Napolean). Hynkel’s plan to show supremacy over Napaloni turns out to be a flop and they both end up fighting over dinner. Osterlich which happens to be a free country is guarded at the border by the forces of Napaloni and Hynkel in his pursuit of conquering the world needs to set foot on Osterlich as his first step. Napaloni and Hynkel sign a peace treaty towards Osterlich and once Napaloni withdrew his forces, Hynkel gets ready to march into that country.
To bring all confusions to the proceedings to an amicable solution the striking similar looks between Hynkel and the Jewish barber helps them as Hynkel out alone on fishing is captured by his own men mistakenly for the barber who had escaped from a concentration camp. The Jewish Barber who had escaped in a military uniform along with Schultz is welcomed as Hynkel and he delivers his first but landmark speech to the world in the aftermath of Osterlich conquer.
The movie undoubtedly belongs to Sir Charles Chaplin who has written and directed this movie. He has brought out the realities of war and how cruel a dictator can be without getting too serious into it. The other support cast have also given their roles a natural look and it is hard to find that kind of acting in the present era of actors.
“The Great Dictator” is a great film made by a great film personality.