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Charlie Chaplin - The Great Dictator [1940] [DVD]

Charlie Chaplin    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
Price: 21.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Charlie Chaplin - The Great Dictator [1940] [DVD] + Modern Times (Chaplin Collection) [DVD] [1936]
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Product details

  • Actors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Sep 2003
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AISJP
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,535 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The Great Dictator was Charles Chaplin's first fully talking picture, a scathing comic assault on Adolf Hitler, which these days will mostly play like brilliant slapstick. But in 1940, with America still neutral, it was the boldest anti-Nazi statement Hollywood had then put on screen. The thin plot doesn't matter, being just a peg for writer-director Chaplin's almost consistently inventive and hilarious set-pieces featuring himself in the duel roles of Adenoid Hynkel, the ludicrous anti-Semitic Dictator of Tomania, and an innocent Jewish barber who happens to be a Tomanian hero of the Great War. In the latter role he affectionately spins a variation on his beloved Tramp character while briefly romancing a lacklustre Paulette Goddard, costar of his equally satirical Modern Times (1936).

Yet it's as Hynkel/Hitler that Chaplin really shines, from a side-splitting opening speech to some Duck Soup-style madness with rival leader Napaloni, played with flamboyant swagger by Jack Oakie. While the finale, a clarion call for a brave new world united by science and technological progress that seems to emanate straight from 1936's Things to Come, may jar, the comedic approach to a deadly serious subject has proved lastingly influential, from Dr Strangelove (1964) to Life is Beautiful (1997).

On the DVD The Great Dictator is presented in the original 4:3 black and white with strong, clear mono sound and a picture so sharp and detailed that, bar a few very minor instances of damage, the film could have been shot yesterday. Also included are French and Italian dubbed versions and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 version of the soundtrack, which is best avoided. The disc features multiple subtitle options, including English for hard of hearing.

Disc Two begins with a superb 55-minute documentary, directed by film historian Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft, narrated by Kenneth Branagh and coproduced by the BBC. The Tramp and the Dictator goes seriously in-depth to explore the parallels between the world's most loved and hated men, drawing on many interviews and remarkable rare footage, including colour sequences of the making of The Great Dictator shot by Chaplin's brother, Sydney. Next comes the complete 25 minutes of that home-movie footage, including coverage of the original abandoned ending, and a seven-minute deleted scene from Sunnyside (1918), which inspired the barber scene. Finally there is a poster gallery and a scene from Monsieur Verdoux (1947) concerning the rise of Hitler and fascism. Marvellous stuff, though a commentary could have added considerably to the already remarkable silent colour material. --Gary S Dalkin

Product Description

Chaplin plays two totally opposite roles in his first "talkie," giving a superb display of his boundless talent for both inspired comedy and powerful drama. One of his masterfully drawn characters is a Jewish barber facing the constant threat of storm troopers and religious persecution. The other is the great dictator, Hynkel, a brilliant lampoon of Adolph Hitler that is awesome proof of Chaplin's pantomime genius. The movie's famous highlight comes in its final scene, when Chaplin steps out of character and addresses the camera with an eloquent plea for the triumph of reason and humanity over mindless militarism. This speech is so moving that Chaplin was later asked to repeat it on national radio, and the film itself was voted one of the year's Ten Best by The New York Times.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortably brilliant 10 May 2004
By Tatiana
When I first saw this film I was completely torn. Is it right to sit and laugh at a topic as serious as the Holocaust? I wondered. Charlie Chaplin once said that comedy is as important as any other genre because it reaches a wider audience. I certainly believe this. So if the result of this film at the time of its release was to publicise how ruthless the Nazis were being then I wholeheartedly condone it.
I marvel at how wonderfully Chaplin mocks Hitler. I suppose he’s right, Hitler was so incredibly insane you can’t help but laugh at him.
The film was released in 1940, before America had joined the war. Because America was neutral at this time the film industry was carefully watched. Films were not released unless they had the official Hays seal of approval. This meant that no film could portray Germany in a malicious or lets face it, realistic, way. There was a National Feelings Clause that stated ‘ The history, institutions, prominent people and citizens of other nations should be represented fairly.’
Chaplin however managed to slip through. Because he had his own independent studio, and the Hays Office only controlled big studio films, Chaplin had more freedom. But as the film took 2 years to make by the time it was released America had already joined the war and so offending Germany was no longer a concern.
What is interesting is that Germany is never once mentioned within the film, which in my opinion makes it hilarious. The fact Germany became Tomania, Hitler became Adenoid Hynkel, Mussolini became Benzino Napaloni and Goebbels (Hitler’s minister of propaganda) became Garbitsch (pronounced garbage) is just too funny and manages to make the entire country and regime look completely ridiculous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Genius !!! 24 Dec 2007
By Jay
The Great Dictator is a beyond-excellent film. Charlie Chaplin succeeds in being both extremely funny and witty and yet at the same time provides a strong statement in his satire against fascism. The anti-Nazi speech by Chaplin at the end, with its values, is one of filmdom's great moments. Throughout this movie, I sensed there was some higher form of intelligence, beyond genuinely intelligent filmmaking, at work.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As relevant as ever 27 Jan 2007
I've just sat through this film for the first time in many years. It is supposed to be Chaplin after his glory days when he was past his peak. RUBBISH!!! It is a tour de force of satire which is as relevant today as when it was first shown in 1940. Only Chaplin had the audacity to mix slapstick with chilling scenes of human cruelty. One minute we're shown storm troopers being hit on the head with a comedy frying pan faces covered in paint. The next, the Jewish barber is being lynched by a mob of storm troopers with a noose around his neck being strung up on a lamp post. Chaplin's portrayal of the banality (and vanity)of evil is masterful; the dance with the globe is sheer Chaplin. The cackle he gives when he takes the world in his hands chills the blood. Let no-one tell you that this is Chaplin on the cheap. It is glorious cinema from a master film maker from start to finish. The closing speech, which has always come in for criticism as preachy, arched, contrived etc, is to my mind very moving and reminds us that dictatorship is closer than we nowadays like to think. Chaplin has been seen as generally out of fashion for some time. I hope that this view is coming to an end. I think in many ways he was ahead of his time and a film like The Great Dictator is a good example of this. This film is nearly 70 years old but has not lost its power to make us laugh. Neither has it lost its power to either shock or warn.

The DVD is excellent as well.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Charlie Chaplin finally moved out of the 1920s and accepted that silent films were gone with his first 'talkie'. Yet Chaplin, like so few masters of the silent screen manages to translate to the new era of cinema.

The film begins at the very end of World War I, with Chaplin as the hapless soldier. This is classic slapstick humour and it is what made Chaplin great. He slips into a comar after a plane crash and does not wake up for almost twenty years, not realising that his native Tomania is now ruled by an insane dictator - Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin). His speach in pigeon German will have you howling.

Although the strength and sentimentality of the film may have faded, it is important to remember that this film was released in the first year of World War II, when it seemed likely that Europe would be under the Nazi jackboot in months. Chaplin treats the most unfunny of subjects with the most vicious of satires, and somehow managing to turn one of the most evil governments of all time into a laughing stock. However the comedy of the film is just as powerful. The site of the little barber swallowing endless coins and his clash with the 'Hairy Aryans' in the street is hysterical. Of course, it as the Great Dictator himself that provides the real star of the show. His dance with the inflatable globe is an iconic moment of cinema, and when the ruler of Bacteria (Italy), Napoloni (Jack Oakie) comes to town you will likely fall off the sofa. The food fight and the barber's chairs had me crying.

The DVD itself is superbly presented, remastered and clean picture and there are enough extras to keep you happy until doomsday. It is the film that will attract you though, and it should keep you coming back again and again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Great Dictator" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Issues With The USA...
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of Chaplin's 1940 masterpiece - and "The Great Dictator" has slowly become available on BLU RAY in several... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mark Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this Film
I enjoyed a lot of the silent and early films that used to get played but this one alluded me for years. Read more
Published 7 months ago by M. A. Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece?
I've no witty or ultra observant social comment to make here - just that along with Modern Times, which was Chaplin's updated and humanised ode to Fritz Lang's classic Metroplis,... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Tim Kidner
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Charles.
Charlie Chaplin was amazing re his ability to be really funny, helped by his acrobatic skills. Old movies like this in many ways surpass some modern productions.
Published on 8 Aug 2011 by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Spans the generation's
One of the funniest films I've watched. It's got the funniness of the his silent films and the best bits of all the Adolf Hitler/World War 2 comic sketches that you've seen... Read more
Published on 5 April 2010 by Ben Nicholson
5.0 out of 5 stars I Don`t Like Chaplin. But This Is A Masterpiece!!!!!!
I titled this deliberatly. I don`t like Chaplin. I allways found his work "twee". I point this out as I am sure there are many like me out there, and it would be a real shame if... Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2008 by Daft
4.0 out of 5 stars I like people like us, simple-minded...
or similar...perhaps this sentence stroke me most, and their genuine simple relationship. I laughed, and reflected, and smiled, and almost cried, and then gladly satisfied to have... Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2008 by Rossella Spoto
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Chaplin at his best.
This is one of the best, and bravest Chaplin efforts. A talkie as well. Hilarious from start to finish. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2007 by Lupe Loco
5.0 out of 5 stars A REAL Classic
This is one of the best, and bravest Chaplin efforts. A talkie as well. Hilarious from start to finish. Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2007 by MaverikUK
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film to watch
I had only seen short clips of this film before watching it and was unsure what to expect. The film is a curious mix of slapstick humour, politics and high art, switching quickly... Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2007 by G. Wake
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