Piazza Maggiore > 21:15


Charlie Chaplin

Supported by Canon

(In case of rain, the screenong will take place at Cinema Arlecchino and Cinema Jolly)


Saturday 22/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Over the past 80 years, we have discovered almost everything there is to know about The Great Dictator. By pure chance, and probably against its author’s wishes, today we possess more materials and testimonies about the creative process behind Chaplin’s films than we do for any other director of the period. In proportion to the enormous amount of film shot – 450,000 feet, just under 83 hours – The Great Dictator is perhaps the film which is best documented in all of its various phases, with more than 7,000 pages of material, capable of illuminating even the most obscure passages. Looking at the wonderful sketches by Russel Spencer or the Super-8mm footage shot by Sydney Chaplin – which reveals for the first time all the colours of the sets and costumes (and we always startle at Chaplin’s blue eyes) – one gets the impression that all these findings do not unravel, but actually deepen the mystery inherent in this film like in any great work of art. That’s the case with the over 200 previously unseen photographs (contact sheets and negatives) shot on the set by assistant director Dan James with his Leica and never before developed. They have been recently acquired by Association Chaplin and they kindly allowed us to show some for the first time. “What, then, is Chaplin’s mystery, his special gift?” George Orwell asked when reviewing the film in December 1940. “It is his ability to represent the deepest essence of the common man, to reproduce an unshakeable faith in the morals and ethics that reside in the heart of ordinary people”. Today, it seems like we must historicise The Great Dictator to appreciate its uniqueness and understand the enormous effort, in terms of costs and images, that went into it, and that that we must retrace its genesis in order to fully grasp Chaplin’s artistic, civil and political evolution. However, perhaps the opposite is true; in other words, that The Great Dictator is such a free, courageous and sincere film not only because it manages to ridicule Adolf Hitler during WWII, but because it still talks to us about man’s nature. As Ugo Casirighi observes, “the roots of evil are never eradicated, they simply ‘emigrate’ elsewhere and the film continues to reinterpret them”.

Cecilia Cenciarelli 

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Charlie Chaplin. F.: Karl Struss, Roland Totheroh. M.: Willard Nico. Scgf: J. Russell Spencer. Mus.: Charlie Chaplin, Meredith Wilson. Int.: Charlie Chaplin (Adenoid Hynkel / il barbiere), Paulette Goddard (Hannah), Jack Oakie (Benzino Napaloni), Henry Daniell (Garbitsch), Reginald Gardiner (Schultz), Billy Gilbert (Herring), Maurice Moskovitch (Mr. Jaeckel). Prod.: Charlie Chaplin per United Artists. DCP.