I love Charlie Chaplin. He is my favorite filmmaker of all time and my favorite of his films is the Great Dictator. This is a masterpiece on so many different levels. First off, Chaplin revisits the tramp whose mustache make him a Hitler lookalike nearly two decades before the German dictator came to prominence. Next, he plays a double role as Adenoid Hinkel, an obvious Hitler stand in and a simple Jewish barber, comparable to his normal Tramp character. Then there is Chaplin’s real life respect for the Jewish people and his indeterminable hatred of injustice and prejudice all of which shine through.
Somehow, Dictator manages to be incredibly funny and slapstick filled, then bittersweet and incredibly sad, all within a few minutes. There are so many levels that this movie works on and it stands the test of time so remarkable well. I am going to include two scenes that appear right next to each other in the movie. The first is among the famous scenes in any Chaplin movie of all time. It involves Hinkel receiving news of an impending invasion on nearby country. Elated, he performs an elaborate and very carefully choreographed ballet with a balloon globe of the world. He dances, sways, kicks it around, catches, until it eventually blows up in his face. The scene is pure poetry. The second video which takes after the globe scene is a scene that might as well as have been in one of his silents. In this scene, Chaplin plays the barber spending a spirited 2 minutes shaving a client as set to Brahm’s Hungarian #5.