Next screening is on popular demand and announced with great pleasure and anticipation – Charlie Chaplin’s satirical political comedy-drama 

1940, 120 min., dir. Charlie Chaplin, starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goodard, English with German subtitles 

TIME: 17h00
VENUE: Howard College, MTB North Wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251 

About the film:
In World War One, a nameless Jewish barber (Charles Chaplin) is injured fighting for the fictional nation of Tomania, and spends years in a veterans’ hospital. He eventually wanders home, unaware that the Hitler-like Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin) has seized absolute power and turned Tomania into an anti-semitic war machine. While defending his shop from storm troopers, the barber meets the beautiful Hannah (Paulette Goddard — near the end of her long romantic relationship with Chaplin) and becomes an unwitting hero to the nascent resistance movement developing in the ghetto. Meanwhile, Hynkle plots to conquer the neighboring nation of Osterlich and become Emperor of the World (a scheme commemorated in Chaplin’s delicate, fiendish dance with an inflatable globe.) In a classic mistaken identity ruse, the poor Jewish barber is taken for merciless Hynkle, leading to a heartfelt plea from Chaplin himself for humanity and justice — surely one of the greatest speeches ever captured on film.

Almost every scene in The Great Dictator is perfect: the iconic globe dance, Hynkle’s poorly-translated address to the Tomanian people, the musical shaving scene, an upside-down airplane, all capped by Chaplin’s heartrending final soliloquy. But the film is still more that the sum of its parts (no matter how glorious those parts may be.) See it when you want to believe that there’s still good in the world — and watch Charlie Chaplin get hit with a frying pan while you’re at it. (

Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (1940) came some 12 years after the introduction of sound, but it was Chaplin’s first all-talking picture. He conceived and filmed “The Great Dictator” during a period when an accommodation with Hitler was still thought possible in some quarters; indeed, he must have been filming when Neville Chamberlain went to Munich. But Chaplin himself had no such optimism, and his portrait of Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania, was among the first declarations of war on Hitler. The film also prophesied the persecution of the Jews, and the scenes of storm troopers terrorizing the Ghetto were thought at the time to go too far. What a sad joke that seems today.

The film itself is filled with sad, pathetic little jokes; this is Chaplin’s most serious, most tragic, most human work. He did not find Hitler at all funny, needless to say, and so although he uses his own comic genius to inspire the movie, the comedy is never neutral. It is jugular, as he creates a Hynkel who is a vain, strutting buffoon, given to egomaniacal rages and ridiculous posturing. Charlie never for a moment allows us to laugh with Hynkel, but only at him, and Hynkel thus becomes the only totally unsympathetic character Chaplin has ever played. To balance him, Chaplin also plays the part of a Jewish barber who happens to be Hynkel’s exact double (and who also happens to look exactly like the Little Tramp). (Published: March 29, 1972) 

For more details please contact:

Dr Marion Pape
German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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