We conclude this weeks war films with a film that could easily also fall
into the genre of comedy. This film takes place during the Second World
War and infact the film was released in America in 1940, i.e. 5 years
before the end of the war.
THE GREAT DICTATOR
Chaplin got the idea when a friend, Alexander Korda, noted that
his screen persona and Adolf Hitler looked somewhat similar. Chaplin later
learned they were both born within a week of each other, were roughly the
same height and weight and both struggled in poverty until they reached
great success in their respective fields.
When Chaplin learned of Hitler's policies of racial oppression and nationalist
aggression, he used their similarities as an inspiration to attack Hitler on film.
When he first announced that he was going to make this film, the British
government - whose policy at the time was one of appeasement towards Nazi
Germany - announced that they would ban it. By the time of the film's
release, though, Britain was at war with Germany and in the midst of the
blitz, so the government's attitude towards the film had completely
When this film was released, Adolf Hitler banned it in Germany and in all
countries occupied by the Nazis. Curiosity eventually got the best of him
and he had a print brought in through Portugal. He screened it not once
but twice. Unfortunately, history did not record his reaction to the film.
When told of this, Charles Chaplin said, "I'd give anything to know what
he thought of it."
Released 13 years after the end of the silent era, this was Chaplin's first all-talking,