The Tramp And The Dictator

The main pretext for this German TV documentary (2002, 55 min.) was the recent discovery of color home movies shot during the production of Charlie Chaplin’s black-and-white feature The Great Dictator (1940), the biggest commercial success of his career. Documentarians Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft are able to cut back and forth between the film and the home movies to show the same actions and sets from different angles, always to fascinating effect. There’s a lot to be said about Chaplin’s complex relation to Hitler: the Tramp’s resemblance to the fuhrer and the fact that he was loved by millions made Chaplin something of a rival as well as an ideological opponent, and though widespread rumors of his Judaism were false, he let them stand to express his solidarity with the Jews. Kloft and Brownlow never get past the more obvious parallels and differences between the two men, but this is still well worth checking out. In English and subtitled German. (JR)

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