Talk:The Great Dictator

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Former good article nomineeThe Great Dictator was a Media and drama good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
November 24, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
November 28, 2006Good article nomineeNot listed
Current status: Former good article nominee

help his people, his country, and his world[edit]

help his people, his country, and his world

Is that overstating the case a bit? Granted, I saw the film over Christmas 2001 and should have remembered the plot a bit more, but--I don't remember anything so grandiose? Could someone clarify and/or expand? --KQ 14:49 Aug 2, 2002 (PDT)

As I recall, at the end of the movie, the barber -- now in the position of dictator -- makes a radio address in which he puts a stop to the anschlus (my appologies to German-speakers, I am sure I have misspelled it) AND makes a general appeal to world peace (with I think some pretty sappy cuts to Paulette Goddard listening intently). I always took it as Chaplin himself speaking to the world -- with mixed feelings, because filmicly I find it sappy yet given the specific context of the film (and the content of Chaplin's words) it really is hard to fault him. But given that it was in the context of a World War, I think that although it sounds hyperbolic, it is fair to say Chaplin wanted his barber ultimately to save the world from war. Slrubenstein
See, I had forgotten that part entirely. Thanks. We should probably add that into the article proper. --KQ
Well, it is the most dated part of the film. I wish I knew more about it -- I wonder if he tacked it on because he was afraid people would accuse him of taking Hitler too lightly in his satire; maybe he felt he needed to add something truly serious. I just do not know. Personally I think it is agreat film and the more developed the article, the better -- but aside from hazy memories of the film, I do not know anything about its making or reception and don't feel comfortable adding to the article myself. If you or anyone else knows more about this aspect, I do hope you or they will add it! Slrubenstein

It's been a long time, but I seem to remember that ironically, that speech at the end was part of the evidence cited against Chaplin in an attempt to prove he was a communist. I could be wrong, but I will try and check it this afternoon. Danny

The "sappy cuts" to Goddard are her beaten unconscious by Tomanian (ptomaine-ian...get it?) stormtroopers. I can never tell if her eardrums or inner ear structures are undamaged by the rifle butts smashed against her head, so I don't know if she's "listening intently" down there on the ground.Coloneldoctor (talk) 03:40, 23 June 2008 (UTC)


The film was banned in 1968 in occupied countries? Which countries? David.Monniaux 08:48, 22 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I believe Czechoslovakia... British film magazines are awash with Chaplinalia this month as there is a big Warner Bros DVD release of his back catalogue so will be able to check when I get home. Pete 11:01, 22 Sep 2003 (UTC)
It was banned in Spain until the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Sabbut 23:46, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It was banend in Sweden until the end of the war due to the neutrality policy. // Liftarn
Because Sweden supported the Nazis. Helpsloose (talk) 16:44, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Sweden only supplied Germany with steel and built their planes (but prior to the war, to get around the Versailles Treaty), and allowed them military passage, but the alternative was to be obliterated. It's in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Plot summary[edit]

I believe the plot summary is a bit muddled; here and there characters are brought up abruptly in a way that's confusing to the reader. I'd edit it, but I really don't know the film well enough. Dyfsunctional 20:07, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I re-wrote the synopsis, kind of combining what was there with other sources on the web. The original article contradicted some other versions as far as the order of the scenes, but I smooshed it all together best I could. 15:35, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Esperanto film?[edit]

Why is this listed under Category:Esperanto films? The Esperanto is limited to a few signs and is not spoken at all in the movie. Heck, there's more German than Esperanto. --dm (talk) 01:51, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

The category is very inclusive: "This category contains films that were written in Esperanto, have spoken or written dialogue in Esperanto prominent or not, or were translated into Esperanto." But even with all that, just having signs in Esperanto arguably doesn't count. I've removed the category. 17:13, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Tomania or Tomainia?[edit]

Shouldn't it be the latter, as a takeoff on ptomaine? Dpbsmith (talk) 18:52, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Never mind, Ebert spells it "Tomania" and so does Bosley Crowther's original 1940 review in The New York Times. Dpbsmith (talk) 19:01, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
All the text in the movie seems to indicate it's Tomainia, though, just take a closer look at the newspaper closeups. 惑乱 分からん 14:09, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
OK, by pausing the movie on my DVD, I find Hynkel's referred to as the "dictator of Tomania" in the opening credits, but otherwise, "Tomainia" seems to be the most common spelling throughout the movie, when Chaplin's character is going with Schultz in the airplane early in the movie, you could make out the letters "TOMAINIA AIRUM" at the side of the aircraft, and during the amnesia scene, all the newspapers (with names like "Tomainia Mail", "Tomainia Gazette", "Tomainia Post" and "Tomainia review") use "Tomainia" unconditionally. I'd say that makes a fair point in favor of the "in" spelling. 惑乱 分からん 14:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
My own viewing of the Region 1 DVD from m2k confirms 惑乱 分からん's observations. Robert Happelberg 19:03, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

For being in Category:Articles with unsourced statements and having images without fair use rationale. --SeizureDog 18:14, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Esperanto usage[edit]

The current text says that the use of Esperanto is a subtle political statement. If this is true, it's very subtle. What is that message? Also, it says the words were misspelled on purpose, but there is no source for this claim. 05:14, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I've marked it as unsourced. I think it should be snipped fairly promptly if nobody can come up with a source and an explanation. Given the spelling discrepancy in the name Tomania/Tomainia it seems to me very unlikely that any spelling errors were deliberate; much more likely that someone grabbed a few Esperanto words as a handy source of foreign-looking words, and didn't care about spelling. Dpbsmith (talk) 12:37, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
P. S. In some random Googling, I've found numerous pages commenting on the signs being "in Esperanto," e.g. imdb's trivia list, but none commenting on the "misspellings" or suggesting a political meaning. Dpbsmith (talk) 12:40, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
P. P. S. A Suite 101 article... suite101 is apparently blocked by Wikipedia's spam filter, to get it by I'm going to change change "suite101" to "suite101x" in the following links, please edit accordingly..., says
Perhaps Esperanto was chosen as an alternative to a national language for the same reason it was selected by the producers of Idiot's Delight, namely, to avoid offending any of the fascist European governments of the 1930's. But there could be another explanation.... Chaplin, like most informed people, was well aware of Hitler's pathological hared of the Jews, and he may well have known of Hitler's animosity to Esperanto as well.
He then quotes a speech which in his opinion expresses, "if not support for the Esperanto language, then an ideological and moral viewpoint which is entirely congruous with that of Dr Zamenhof and of many committed Esperantists."
The article is by a David Poulsen, who is self-identified,, in English and Esperanto, simply as: "I like music, films and Soccer. I play guitar, electric organ and a range of recorders, and I used to play trombone in a brass band. I live in Chiang Mai in the Northern part of Thailand. However, I wasn't born in Thailand, but in England." Dpbsmith (talk) 12:53, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

OK, I found a book source which says "Between world wars, Esperanto fared worse and, sadly, became embroiled in political power moves. Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that the spread of Esperanto throughout Europe was Jewish plot to break down national differences so that Jews could assume positions of authority.... After the Nazis' successfull Blitzkrieg of Poland, the Warsaw Gestapo received orders to 'take care' of the Zamenhof family.... Zamenhof's son was shot... his two daughters were sent to the Treblinka death camp." I've edited the paragraph accordingly. Apparently the "subtle political message" was that at the time Esperanto was attacked by the right wing and thought to be a left-wing and/or Jewish movement. Dpbsmith (talk) 13:09, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
There's a discussion on IMDb where it's said that Hitler had banned Esperanto. (I'm no expert and present this only as a point of interest.)Paleolith (talk) 18:47, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Hitler did not see the movie[edit]

According to the The Tramp and the Dictator, the film was not only sent to Hitler, but an eyewitness confirmed he did see it.

This is most probably an example of an urban legend. In fact, there is no evidence that Hitler saw the movie. All that is known for sure is that the German film studio of that time, the UFA, obtained a copy of the movie in neutral Portugal during World War II. Everything else is just speculation. In addition, Albert Speer clearly denied that Hitler watched the movie in an interview with American journalists .-- 12:13, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Speer hat auch eine Frage beantwortet, über die schon 1945 viel spekuliert worden war. In den USA war das Gerücht aufgekommen, eine Kopie des Filmes sei von Agenten des Dritten Reiches angekauft worden. Hitler habe sich "The Great Dictator" angesehen und anschließend vor Wut in den Teppich gebissen. Speer hat mit diesem Mythos aufgeräumt. Zwar habe sich die UFA im neutralen Portugal eine Kopie besorgt, aber die sei Hitler nie vorgeführt worden.[source (German only)]
Speer also answered a question, about which there was a lot of speculation since 1945. In the US, the rumour came up that a copy of the film was bought by agents of the Third Reich. Hitler was said to have watched "the great dictator" and afterwards bit into a carpet outrageously. Speer straightened that myth: The UFA bought a copy in neutral Portugal, but it was never shown to Hitler.-- 12:26, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

PS: Who exactly is that eyewitness that is mentioned in the documentary? I seriously doubt that there are any eyewitnesses that can state that Hitler saw the movie. It sounds more like "I think it's true but I don't have any sources".-- 13:03, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

The part about Hitler being a carpet muncher is true, though, and nicely sourced in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Part of that whole meth mania he was prone to. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Coloneldoctor (talkcontribs) 03:47, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
I just saw the documentary. There is no eyewitness account in it. There is screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who, at the end of the war, was one of those tasked with assembling film evidence to be used against the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials. Schulberg said that he found "the file" containing the list of films Hitler had screened. He said that according the file, The Great Dictator was screened twice. There is no elaboration form Schulberg in the documentary as to where the file came from, what makes him think it was authentic, whether anyone else can confirm, etc. Also in the documentary, there is Reinhard Spitzy, whom the documentary identifies as a member of Hitler's "inner circle". (Spitzy was an SS soldier who served as an aide to Hitler's Foreign Minister.) He states that it was "obvious" to him that Hitler had seen the film, but he does not claim to have personally witnessed such a viewing by Hitler, nor does he elaborate on exactly why it was "obvious" that Hitler had seen it. (talk) 09:54, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Remember, Speer could not have known for certain that Hitler never saw the film. Valetude (talk) 12:19, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Plus - Speer was totally unreliable. His memoirs were pure disinformation. Gitta Sereny's biography was titled 'Albert Speer: His Battle with the Truth'. Valetude (talk) 19:17, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

Musical parody?[edit]

The scene where he dances with a large, inflatable globe to the tune of a theme from Wagner's Lohengrin was claimed to also be a parody of the overstated and heavy Wagner music Hitler liked (Chaplin liked simpler music, like a single chello). Should this go into the article? // Liftarn

I think so. Using music to express something is a tradition of Chaplin's film.
"While Bayreuth presented a useful front for Nazi culture, and Wagner's music was used at many Nazi events,[244] the Nazi hierarchy as a whole did not share Hitler's enthusiasm for Wagner's operas and resented attending these lengthy epics at Hitler's insistence.[245]"(from Richard Wagner) --Apemiro(Talk) 12:26, 24 May 2015 (UTC)


According to some book that Tomania is really Germany Adenoid Hynkel is Adolf Hitler and Hynkel Party is the Nazi Party I didn't edit the article Mrsanitazier 8:51 PM ET March 6,2007

In Pop culture[edit]

The "balloon globe ballet" is parodied a few times in pop culture: -G.W. Bush - The Great Dictator. -In one episode of Pinky and the Brain. Maybe find more and add a section. --Ollj 11:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

The article states that Chaplin was interviewed for a documentary in 1983. Chaplin died on 25 December 1977! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:47, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Sampled by Mos Def[edit]

I'm moving this here because no source is given, and because it doesn't seem of any obvious importance. It's not mentioned in our article on Mos Def, and I doubt that listeners are expected to recognize it as being from the Chaplin movie. Dpbsmith (talk) 15:17, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Part of Chaplin's speech towards the end of the movie was sampled by Mos Def for the song "War" off of his album The New Danger
Many, many, many artists have sampled it in various tracks. // Liftarn (talk)

"It was shown in London during the Battle of Britain"???[edit]

Given that it opened in Britain in December, and that Battle of Britain gives 31st October 1940 as a "generally accepted" date for the end of the BoB, how can this be possible? Could it be that what is actually meant is "...during the Blitz"? I'm British (though too young to remember WW2) and would find "Blitz" a much more appropriate term to use to relate to the very end of 1940 and early 1941 than "Battle of Britain". 02:38, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

This section has gotten itself in a tangle. As noted above, it says the film played during the Battle of Britain, having already said that it opened in London in December 1940, by which time BoB was over. It then goes on to report a 'UK premiere' of the film in 1941, which makes no sense if it was playing in December 1940! Nor does the claim that the theatre owner involved in the 1941 'premiere' was fined. Fined for showing a film that was already on release, and which offended countries Britain was already at war with? Why would that happen? I appreciate that there is a source cited for this assertion, but it is so clearly in error that the source is not credible. --Grubstreet (talk) 22:02, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

In what countries was The Great Dictator banned?[edit]

I heard that the movie was banned in a couple of countries even after WWII, e.g. in Spain under Franco. Does anyone have any further Information on this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

List of all countries in which The Great Dictator had been banned?[edit]

Is it possible to list up all countries in which _The Great Dictator_ ever has been banned especially after(!) WWII? I know that it had been banned in Spain until Franco's death in 1975, but what other countries was it banned in? E.g. in Latin America?* In post-war U.S.? Was _The Great Dictator_ well received in Latin America anyway?

Dating problem - contradiction[edit]

As mentioned in a section further up this Talk page, there is a serious date-related contradiction in the "Reception" section. We are told both that the film was "shown in London during the Battle of Britain" and that the Prince of Wales Theatre in, um, London screened its UK premiere "in 1941" and that the theatre's owner was fined for showing it. At least one of these two assertions must be incorrect. This contradiction has now been in the article for many months, and it needs sorting out. Loganberry (Talk) 02:00, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Here are two more unaccurate sentences:

By the time he finished filming almost six months later, France had fallen to the Nazis

The German attack on France began May 10th of 1940 and France fell one month later, i.e. a few months after he ended filming according after said "almost 6 months".

The film was released in France in April 1945, shortly after the liberation of Paris

The liberation of Paris happened in August 1944, there is no synchronicity between the two events.

Academy Awards – 1940[edit]

Award Result Winner
Outstanding Production Nominated Charles Chaplin Productions –United Artists (Charlie Chaplin, Producer)
Winner was David O. Selznick - Rebecca
Best Actor Nominated Charlie Chaplin
Winner was James Stewart - The Philadelphia Story
Best Writing, Original Screenplay Nominated Charlie Chaplin
Winner was Preston Sturges - The Great McGinty
Best Supporting Actor Nominated Jack Oakie
Winner was Walter Brennan - The Westerner
Best Music (Original Score) Nominated Meredith Willson
Winner was Leigh Harline Paul Smith and Ned Washington - Pinocchio
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Art Direction (Black-and-White)
  • Best Cinematography (Black-and-White)
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Director
  • Best Sound Recording
  • Best Special Effects

Award Nominee
Best Director Charlie Chaplin and Wheeler Dryden
Best Actress Paulette Goddard
Best Supporting Actress [[]]
Best [[]]
Best [[]]
Best [[]]
Best [[]]
Best [[]]

Note on URLs as accessed from college campuses[edit]

Note to

The Citations in Great Dictator should stay exactly as they have been. The revised URLs which briefly appeared early on July 1, 2010 are the ones that would be used if a student at the University of Washington was on a university computer network that required a University ID to view specific blocked websites on a University computer (very common in University libraries- this prevents members of the general public who walk into the library from using library computers for personal business, but students with a proper ID can do so). These URLs are however useless for anyone checking citations on any and every computer that does NOT belong to the University of Washington. Please don't revise URLs according to what appears on your computer if you are a University student on such a network. Inserting "" into every URL on the page just makes them impossible to find for every Earthling NOT using a UofWash computer.--WickerGuy (talk) 17:04, 1 July 2010 (UTC)


What Cliff's Notes or similar did you crib to include a section called "Analysis"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

It's all footnoted.--WickerGuy (talk) 14:44, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

RE: Reception[edit]

  • It eventually became Chaplin's highest grossing film with a total of 11 million worldwide.

11 million whats? Dollars? Pounds? Viewers? — (talk) 03:35, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

I assume this means dollars. I believe this was his highest-grossing film, at least in America during its original release. Please note, however, a different, much lower (and probably incorrect) number is given in the box above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:18, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

Name of the Jewish Barber[edit]

What evidence is there that the Jewish barber is called Omler? As far as I know he's never called by name in the film, and the credits just say "A Jewish barber". --Feldkurat Katz (talk) 21:01, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. I removed it. Nightscream (talk) 01:18, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
I've just checked it and now I'm pretty sure someone just made it up. The film goes to great lengths to conceal the barber's name: In the scene where the hospital authorities discuss his case they call him "Patient 33". His ID card is shown, and there it says (barely legible): "Name unknown - says he's a barber." The sign on his shop says "Barber" and something like "Razn", "Barbavadn", "Haru Tondador" which supposedly means something like "shaving and haircutting".
BTW, someone knowledgeable should check the claim that the signs are in Esperanto. They seem to be made up of bits and pieces of all kinds of languages to be vaguely understandable - just like Esperanto is made up, but I'm not sure it is Esperanto (I rather think not). --Feldkurat Katz (talk) 08:33, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Fined for showing it where?[edit]

'In 1941, London's Prince of Wales Theatre screened its UK premiere. The film had been banned in many parts of Europe, and the theatre's owner, Alfred Esdaile, was apparently fined for showing it.'

But the film was no longer banned in the UK after September 1939. Had Esdaile managed to get it shown in other countries? Valetude (talk) 18:22, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

"Citation Note 4" provides no verifiable source; it simply directs to the Wiki page for the Theatre mentioned, and that page also has no verifiable sources for the claim of owner Esdaile being fined. Gettiton (talk) 18:39, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Controversy in the US[edit]

The article states that the film was popular with American audiences. The Attenborough Chaplin film, however, depicts the movie as generating an angry response from some moviegoers, in particular the barber's speech. Is there any indication of the film being controversial in this manner, or was this just done for dramatic effect in the movie? (talk) 18:52, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

"The first important satire" in cinema?[edit]

The article has Chaplin biographer Vance hailing the film as the "first important satire" in the history of cinema. I know that's just his point of view and he might count as notable allright, but it's still clearly a flourish, peacock language. Both Duck Soup and Chaplin's own The Gold Rush would qualify as solid examples of satire, and they reached very far both artistically and commercially. One could probably also cite von Stroheim's Greed (even if it was heavily cut and didn't make that much of an impact in its own day, but it's become legendary later on). And Duck Soup is clearly a movie-length political satire (against militarism and jingoism). Someone might care to look up a few other film historians and expand that sentence a bit.

"Prince of Wales" Theatre as a source for political controversy in lead?[edit]

In the lead, there's a source for the "Prince of Wales" theatre cited for the claim that the film was controversial in its day. However, the source in question dates to 2007, and although I'm not sure of the contents of the source, the title "Theatre Programme, Mama Mia!" doesn't exactly inspire much confidence that it's at least solid enough for the lead. Does anybody object if I remove this source and replace it with a more reliable one for this claim? Luthien22 (talk) 22:30, 28 March 2015 (UTC)


"...both Chaplin and French film-maker René Clair viewed Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will together at a showing..." Did they both see it, or did they watch it together? DBautell (talk) 01:58, 23 April 2015 (UTC)