The Great Dictator

Watch The Great Dictator

"Once again - the whole world laughs!"
  • G
  • 1940
  • 2 hr 4 min
  • 8.4  (238,254)

The Great Dictator is a satirical comedy-drama film released in 1940, directed by and starring the legendary comic actor Charlie Chaplin. It was his first true sound film, and he took full advantage of the new technology to deliver an unforgettable performance. The movie is a political satire that was released during a time when Europe was on the brink of World War II. The Great Dictator deals with dictators, anti-Semitism and fascism. Despite the serious issue that the movie tackles, it maintains a humorous tone throughout.

The film is set in the fictional country of Tomainia, where a dictator named Adenoid Hynkel (played by Chaplin) has come to power, backed by his sinister henchman Garbitsch (Henry Daniell). Hynkel, a megalomaniacal character, is obsessed with conquering the world and promoting the idea of Aryan supremacy. He is also vehemently anti-Semitic and already rounding up Jews for persecution.

However, the plot takes a turn when Chaplin's character, a Jewish barber who has been in a coma since World War I, returns to Tomainia and is mistaken for Hynkel. The barber sees firsthand the suffering of the Jewish people and is determined to defeat the dictator, while Hynkel's rule becomes increasingly unstable due to his own incompetence and the increasing threat of an impending war.

The film's comedic elements stem from the stark contrast between Hynkel's power and incompetence, as well as the antics of the barber in trying to overthrow him. Chaplin's physical comedy is excellent as always, and his performance as both the ruthless dictator and the humble barber is truly remarkable. Paulette Goddard, who plays Hannah, a loyal Jewish woman, brings a charming presence to the film, while Jack Oakie as Napaloni, the foreign dictator and Hynkel's rival, is a scene-stealer in his own right.

Beyond the comedy, The Great Dictator is also highly political, making a statement against fascism and dictatorship, and promoting liberty, democracy and equality. The film's final speech has become iconic, with Chaplin delivering a plea for humanity and compassion that stands the test of time.

Despite being released over 80 years ago, The Great Dictator remains a powerful work of cinema that is still relevant today. It was also highly controversial upon its release, with Nazi Germany banning the film and the United States hesitant to promote it due to criticism of the Soviet Union. However, it gained critical acclaim and eventually became Chaplin's most commercially successful film.

All in all, The Great Dictator is a masterful film that delivers a memorable blend of humor and political commentary, while addressing an important global issue. It showcases Charlie Chaplin's talents as a filmmaker and performer, and remains a testament to the power of cinema to affect social change.

The Great Dictator is a 1940 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.4.

The Great Dictator
Where to Watch The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Great Dictator for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 4 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.4  (238,254)