Few films of Hollywood’s classical era are simultaneously courageous and hilarious, but the internationally minded humanist Charlie Chaplin had the American film industry biting its nails when he bravely and independently produced and released this provocative, devastating satire (the first) of Adolph Hitler and moving plea for world peace. This was Chaplin’s first dialogue film (full of delightful puns) and the first in which his universally adored Tramp character was given a language, a nationality and a religion—making The Great Dictator the first Hollywood film to name explicitly Hitler’s Jewish victims. Like most Chaplin films, it consists primarily of various comic episodes involving Chaplin’s World War I veteran living in the Jewish ghetto and the comedian’s hysterical Adenoid Hynkel, the nonsense spouting/coughing dictator of Ptomania, whose speeches are reason alone to see the film. 125 min.
Part of the Emory Cinematheque series “Resisting Fascism.” Each film in the series will be introduced by Paul Buchholz, assistant professor of German Studies, with contributions from other faculty in Emory’s Department of German Studies.