The Great Dictator (1940) Poster


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  • Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed, and starred in The Great Dictator. Edit

  • Tomainia. It's a play on "ptomaine", a deadly food-poisoning. Edit

  • Adenoid Hynkel of Tomania represents Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benzino Napoloni of Bacteria represents Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Garbitsch is Joseph Goebbels. Osterlich is Austria. Some have suggested Field Marshal Herring is Heinrich Himmler; others think Herring was suggested by Hermann Göring, the chief of Hitler's Air Force, because "Göring" rhymes with "herring." Edit

  • No. It's pseudo-German gibberish with a few words tossed in to make it sound like German. For example, he refers to the German Navy as "der größte Navy in der Welt" and describes the Arian maiden as "die Delicatessen mit der schön (pretty face) und der Holstein (gestures a big bosom)...... und nach der Tsuden (the Jews) unbelievte Sauerkraut mit der Juden " while the commentator says: "His excellency has just referred to the Jewish people". The comedy is not about the exact contents of the speech, but to mock Hitler's style. On one level, it succeeded as a silly string of nonsense but, on another level, it drives home the idea that, while Hitler's speeches may have sounded good, they were, in fact, mostly nonsensical rants. Edit

  • While The Great Dictator is an obvious spoof on Adolf Hitler, it was released in 1940, before the world knew about the Holocaust, and before most of it had happened, so it was not meant as a spoof on the Holocaust. Some viewers say that this movie is a testament to Chaplin's genius, but Chaplin himself has been quoted as saying that, had he known about the horrors to come, he would never have made this film. Edit

  • The story is that Goebbels had a copy of The Great Dictator seized from one of the German-occupied countries and then brought to Hitler. Hitler screened the film alone, except for his personal projectionist. When it was over, it's said that he demanded to see it again. Beyond that, his true reaction is not known. The projectionist later claimed that the only time Hitler laughed at the movie was the "barber chair scene" where Hynkel and Napaloni were attemping to tower over each other by elevating the barber shop chairs they were seated in. Chaplin wrote: "I'd give anything to know what he thought of it." Edit

  • By turning the prop airplane upside-down with the actors strapped in, and by turning the camera upside-down as well, then just pouring the water on the studio floor, making it appear to go upwards. Edit

  • It is a misquote of the Latin "aut Caesar aut nihil", meaning "either Caesar or nothing", meaning that the only acceptable possibility is to be emperor, indicating that Hynkel will not be satisfied until he rules the entire world. Edit



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