CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GREAT DICTATOR: DVD
Chaplinís biggest financial success and his first film with dialogue, in which he
plays a sweet natured Jewish barber as well as his look-alike, the murderous dictator of
Tomainia, Adenoid Hynkel, for whom he is mistaken at a crucial moment. Jack Oakie plays
Napaloni, dictator of Bacteria, and Billy Gilbert is Field Marshall Herring, with Henry
Daniell as Garbitsch.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
America had not yet entered the war when Chaplin made this high energy satire, but you
could be forgiven for thinking that the film itself was the first big gun fired in the
direction of Nazi Germany. Todayís equivalent perhaps of Will Smith making a
satirical feature based on Rwandaís Robert Mugabe.
Itís a crude satire, certainly by todayís standards, and the best parts are
those that rely on Chaplinís well-honed skills as a physical comedian. The barber
character retains some of the attributes and accessories of the Tramp from the silent days
(hat, cane, etc as well the oddly prophetic moustache which the Tramp groomed well before
Adolf did) but the dialogue is often clunky, many of the routines are too long and the
concept wears out.
But it twangs the strings of tolerance and human decency with the intensity of the time of
its making. The closing speech, made by the barber after being mistaken for Hynkel, is
especially notable for its highly charged content and delivery, with no attempt at
soothing humour: this is Chaplin at his most earnest.
Superbly remastered and remixed, the soundtrack is crystal clear and the black and white
photography is splendid.
The big deal on this disc is the 55 minute doco, The Tramp and The Dictator, narrated by
Kenneth Branagh. It opens with the not-so-trivial bit of trivia, that Chaplin and Adolf
Hitler were born just days apart. Having set the context with such economy, then doco goes
onto explore the two lives. One became the most loved, the other the most hated of men,
not only of their time, but of all time.
Published December 4, 2003
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THE CHAPLIN COLLECTION:
THE GOLD RUSH
BUY IT HERE
CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GREAT DICTATOR: DVD (G)
CAST: Charlie Chaplin, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert, Grace Hayle, Paulette Goddard
DIRECTOR: Charlie Chaplin
SCRIPT: Charlie Chaplin
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
PRESENTATION: 1.33:1 (4:3 full frame transfer); B/W; DD 5.1 (remastered)
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: The Great Dictator (digitally remastered and restored) Disc Two: The Tramp and The Dictator documentary; home movies Ė in colour - on the set by Sydney Chaplin; deleted scenes from Sunnyside (1919); excerpts from Chaplinís black comedy Monsieur Verdoux (1947); poster gallery
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003