A Political Science View of the Movie The Great Dictator

halfling By halfling, 12th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

This essay is about the movie The Great Dictator starring Charlie Chaplin. Written for a Film and Politics class I took, this argument discusses if this movie is merely and entertaining political farce or if it holds a deeper meaning, that may even be relevant today.

A Political Science View of the Movie The Great Dictator

While it is clear that The Great Dictator is an entertaining political farce due to its rather comedic representation of dictators as well as the events leading up to World War 2, it is also an ideological film. In this film Charlie Chaplin uses his special brand of humor to propose that the ideology behind dictatorships and racial hatred can easily lead to corruption and that peace and acceptance is the ideology that will win the day. We see this especially in the ending speech, but can also see smaller glimpses in Schultz’s refusal to take out the Ghetto after discovering the barber there.

This also leads to an interesting statement on the nature of friendship that comes of suffering hard times together. Had that rather unusual set of events at the beginning of the film in the plane at the end of the first war not happened, there would have been no real chance of the second set of events leading to the speech at the end of happening either. However through out it all Schultz is military through and through, finding either obedience or violence as his answer to most problems, it is the Barber who entertains the notion that what has become of the world does not have to be the way it will remain.

This film also goes on to make some statements about the power of the little man in standing up for what is just and right against all odds. In particular we see this when Hannah assists with her frying pan in attacking the Storm Troopers. We also see statements around gender, which while indicative for that time, are less relevant today, such as Hannah needing to be made up but not the barber.

While the film clearly speaks to a certain time period it is still relevant in the modern political world. There will always continue to be the threat of an over powering dictator that rules against the people, we can see it even now in some areas of our modern world. It is up to us to stand up and not allow the dictators to rise to power by the little guy standing up for what is right, even if the opportunity comes so surprisingly as it did in ultimate fashion at the end of the film for the Barber.


Black And White Films, Charlie Chaplin, Political Farce, Political Films, Political Science, The Great Dictator

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author avatar halfling
I am a busy mother of two school aged children. I have a great husband and work full time. I am an Excel and Internet addict, I also play RPGs, sew costuming and work in my yard.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
12th Sep 2010 (#)

This article reminded what great fun I had arguing the political aspect of this film back in Political Science class in college!

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author avatar halfling
12th Sep 2010 (#)

It was actually the first Charlie Chaplin movie I had truly watched start to finish. I was surprised by how much depth the movie had.

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