Parents' Guide to

The Great Dictator

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Comic genius blitzkriegs the Third Reich.

Movie G 1940 126 minutes
The Great Dictator Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 10+

age 10+

Funny and inspiring.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (11 ):

The movie doesn't feel like old newspapers, but fresh and urgent. The immortal, wordless dream ballet in which Hynkel/Hitler, imaging himself emperor of Earth, dances lovingly with a globe-shaped balloon, is a timeless metaphor for every wannabe conqueror from Napoleon on up. Chaplin's narrative isn't terribly cohesive, more like a series of blackout sketches, but younger viewers are especially forgiving about that. Some critics think The Great Dictator went overboard with a climactic speech, in which Chaplin completely breaks character to deliver an emotional tirade against 1930s totalitarianism and the "machine men" plunging the planet into madness. But as a film-comedy genius using the talents he has to confront world-class enemies and injustice directly, this is as good as it gets.

Viewers today are used to satire like Saturday Night Live or Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which look terribly out of date just months later. Not exactly great art. But THE GREAT DICTATOR is different. Silent-era megastar Charlie Chaplin, in his first film with extensive dialogue, does attack the international villains of the time, the Third Reich (Hynkel for Hitler; a fat field marshal named Herring, instead of Goering; a "Garbitsch" -- pronounced "garbage" -- instead of Goebbles). But the jokes are done with sublime slapstick, poignancy, and timeless insight into the foibles of human nature.

Movie Details

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