Transcript of spoken notes from Charles Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”:
One of his few talkies. Trumpet sound. Shares his title card with Claudette Goddard. Charlie gets a BIG written and directed credit. One title card holds two AD’s, one DP, editor and sound, Way to save space, Chaz. Musical direction by Meredith Wilson gets her own title card. Cast roll by, people of the palace, people of the ghetto, Chaplin plays two roles, the dictator and the Jewish Barber. Hannah is his love interest. Note: Any resemblance between Hinkel the Dictator and the Jewish Barber are purely coincidental. That’s a joke on him resembling Hitler in this. Humanity was kicked around somewhat. World war 1918, trenches, gunshots, soldiers trying not to die. Smaller cannons, then a BIG cannon. Explosions on both sides. The narrator says “This War Machine would smash the enemy.” Shirtless soldiers load big missiles in the big cannon. Charlie holds the rip-cord for the cannon, one finger in his ear. The general counts down. FIRE! Charlie pulls the ripcord so hard, he spins around and falls over. The cannon fires and explodes an outhouse. Charlie goes aw, shucks! Silently.
The general takes the binoculars from him and gives coordinates to the guy who aims the big cannon. Malfunction sounds within the cannon and after a POP the missile falls to the ground in front of the cannon. Charlie turns to the shirtless soldiers and shrugs, they shrug back. The general commands Charlie to check the fuse. He circles the bomb, the tip of which follows him in a circle. He starts running around the bomb in circles as it chases him. Charlie stops, the bomb stops. He tries to sneak away and the bomb starts spewing smoke! All the soldiers duck for cover, the bomb explodes. The soldiers hear an air raid, they command Charlie to shoot at the airplanes, but he can’t get the chair gun to stand up straight. Haven’t all filmmakers felt this struggle with a tripod and a camera? They say “Hey, have you gone crazy?” No. He just can’t get the hang of it! We’ve all been there. Charlie keeps trying to keep getting the hang of the chair gun until he falls out of it. The general says “What do you think you’re doing, have you gone crazy?” The guy in the pointy hat seems to be in charge. They say all soldiers to the front! They hand out bags of hand grenades, Charlie tries to walk by without one, they make him take one, he asks a soldier how to use it. All in one word the soldier says “pullthepincounttotenthrowit” Charlie practices counting on his fingers, pulls the pin and loses the grenade down his sleeve and into his clothes. He has to take off his clothes to get the grenade out before it explodes and he passes out in Pointy hat’s arms. Pointy hat says “Pull yourself together!” Hands him a bayonet and tells him to march forward. Charlie gets lost in the fog, ends up on the enemy side like “oops!” And runs away.
Charlie knocks on the door of a ruined cabin, the door is missing the center panel, so it’s kinda pointless to be knocking, but he’s just that polite. A soldier is in the cabin, firing a machine gun propped up on some rocks at the advancing enemy. Charlie enters the cabin and closes the broken door behind him. The soldier tells Charlie to keep firing, he’ll be back in a moment! Charlie fires the machine gun once and rolls over from the kickback. He sees the enemy almost there. Charlie hears “Help!” From outside. The soldier is on the ground, he says he’s too exhausted, Charlie has to help him up into his plane. Charlie picks him up, really quite strong for a short guy, puts the soldier in the plane. Charlie says he doesn’t know how to fly a plane, but he can try… The soldier says he’s too exhausted to fly, but not exhausted enough to tell Charlie how to fly the plane. They escape the enemy just in time. The soldier passes out in mid-flight and the plane turns upside down, they can’t tell in the fog though. Charlie says the sun is setting upside down. The soldier says he feels better with the blood rushing to his head. Charlie takes out his pocket watch, which dangles upward from his perspective. He says “We seem to be defying the laws of gravity”. Charlie offers his canteen to the soldier and all the water falls out- from their perspective- vertically. They still haven’t figured out that they’re upside down. 24 is the number on the plane. “How’s the gas?” The pilot asks “Terrible, kept me up all night!” Replies Charlie. That cracked me up. Charlie says his belt is too tight, ends up falling out of the plane, downwards, holding onto the throttle for dear life. The soldier finally says “We’re upside down!” Charlie says “I knew it.” The solder says “Oh well, we’re out of gas. This is the end. Cigarette?” He offers Charlie, who is still dangling from the throttle on the upside-down plane. “Not now” Responds Charlie. The soldier starts to reminisce about a girl he once knew in springtime named Hilda, who wouldn’t cut a daffodil because that would be like taking a life. The plane crashes and the pilot is still reminiscing about Hilda, says she loved animals and children too… He’s waking up. He’s looking for Charlie, he can’t find him! Charlie’s neck-deep in mud! Except for his eyes. He’s looking for something, a bag. Medics rush over. Charlie’s stuck in the mud!
Newspapers run off the presses “Armistice!” Parades, confetti, everyone’s happy. They put muddy Charlie on a stretcher, take him to a hospital, there’s a bandage on his head, doctors and nurses put him in a nice, comfortable hospital bed. Images of goose-stepping storm troopers, newspapers saying PEACE! Dempsy beats Willard! Lindberg flies the Atlantic! Depression! Riots in Tomania (fake Germany) Hinkel party takes power. The Jewish barber walks out of the hospital.
Hinkel speaks to the crowd. I’m not sure if he’s really speaking German or if he’s making up a fake language. The fake swastika is two X X’s Did you know that Charlie Chaplin had that mustache before Hitler? Hitler grew that mustache in order to look more like Chaplin and endear himself to the people. It’s not a Hitler mustache! It’s a Chaplin mustache! Chicken vs. EGG! In the movie, Hinkel is pouring himself a glass of water and everyone is applauding. He pours some water down his pants. Why does he do that? But it doesn’t look like he’s wet himself for some reason and the crowd is all giving him the nazi salute and applauding until he puts his hand up and they stop. Something about immigrants. Liberty something. Freedom of speech is an objection?! Fuck you! He’s giving a very Hitler-like speech about tightening belts, stuff like that. A very fat general with a lot of metals tightens his belt and when he sits down, his belt bursts open. That’s a fat joke, may not fly today, but within the context, I hope people get the point. Hinkel is still orating to the crowd, there’s a guy off to the side looking at his watch as if to say “when is this over?” He keeps going on and on, kind emotional, tearing up, he dries his eyes on his tie. He loves everyone for being so loyal. He’s coughing in the middle of the speech, but he keeps talking. He crosses his arms like he knows what he’s talking about, he gestures towards his face, his outfit, his physique, but he loves babies! He’s motioning like he’s rocking a baby.
And he loves people all the way up to adults, he loves everyone! He crosses his arms like he’s just won over the crowd, then he stops the cheer with a hand up. What is this, Simon says? It’s amazing we can understand what he’s saying even though we can’t understand the words. Hitler was kinda like that too except he was saying abhorrent things. Charlie’s just here extrapolating Hitler’s act, which he stole from Charlie Chaplin in the first place! How’s that meta taste? He yells at his microphones until they flip over. He seems really angry. Clienches his fists crosses his arms, lifts his hands, crowd cheers, they stop when he raised his hand again. He seems to have good crowd control. Saying something serious. He’s leaning forward and pounding his fists, he’s really trying to rile the crowd up to fight. Fight from the heart. Something about Europe, he keeps saying Europe, and he’s pointing and shouting and everybody’s cheering for him. He pulls up his pants, pours some water in a glass and pours it in his ear. Why did he do that? And his other ear too, what the hell? That’s kinda weird. He salutes the crowd, the crowd salutes him back. An advisor puts a coat on him, puts another coat on him, how many coats does this guy need? which he fastens with a belt! He’s not loosening his belt with two coats on. Some lady gets a hand-kiss from Hynkel and he falls down the stairs! He just yells at the general with the medals like it was his fault. Something about a banana. I’m starting to think this isn’t real German. He takes a hat from another guy, punches the fat guy in the stomach, walks away.
There are a bunch of cute little kids waiting by his car to say hi and give him flowers. All these kids think he’s awesome, somebody hands him a baby and he holds it for pictures, he smiles like he likes holding babies (it does not go well), he hands the baby back, before wiping his hand off because he just touched a baby. He gets into the car, followed by the guy holding all the flowers the children just gave him, everyone salutes him, he salutes back, but kinda half-hearted, like he doesn’t need to put as much effort into a salute. They drive past a Venus de Milo with an arm attached giving him a nazi-like salute, Hynkel sniffs the flowers. They pass a statue of “the thinker” who also has been altered to give Hynkel a salute. His general is talking about Jews. Things have been quiet in the ghetto lately.
Cut to: The Ghetto. You know it’s the ghetto because there’s a sign. There’s a barbershop with the word “Jew” written on the boarded-up window. The barber shows up and removes the boards. Stormtroopers are walking around, watching all the jews. A mousy guy with glasses asks for a room from Hannah’s Father next door, he says they’re full up, “Things couldn’t be worse!” Says the mousey guy. Hannah’s father has his own troubles. Hannah’s father looks like a much older Vincent Price. Mousey guy looks like he’s losing this sale. Hannah’s father asks for his tobacco pouch for his pipe, says the mousy guy can stay even though he has no money. Hannah comes down the stairs with a basket of laundry on her head. She’s pretty but her hair is a rat’s nest. Hannah’s father gives her the keys, she puts them in her pocket. Her dress has pockets! She walks with the laundry on her head down her street even though she’s in the Jewish Ghetto. She’s just trying like hell to survive.
Uhp, she’s not smiling anymore. It’s because the stormtroopers are coming down the street, harassing jews and turning over their fruit carts just because they can. Hannah takes her laundry off her head. She has soot stains on her face, the stormtroopers start stealing food from the Jews in the ghetto. The stormtroopers aren’t tightening their belts. Hannah gets mad. “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” She says. “What would you do?” Says the stormtrooper. Hannah challenges them to take her away, they throw tomatoes at her because she asked them to give the tomatoes back to the people they stole them from. She gets pelted with tomatoes with her laundry on her head, cowers in a doorway until the stormtroopers leave. Poor Hannah, she just wanted to stand up for the Jews because their tomatoes were being stolen. Hannah picks the tomato pieces out of her laundry, searches through the laundry, can’t find anything clean enough to clean the tomatoes off of her, she calls them “pigs” because they are.
Administrators are going through paperwork. 33, Jewish says Charlie (aka Jewish Barber)’s a military record. The administrators act like that’s a problem. Do they think he’s dead?
Here comes the little tramp aka the Jewish Barber. He’s opening the barbershop with the key even though it’s boarded up and it says “Jew” on it. When he opens the door, a bunch of kittens runs out! Aw! He lets kittens stay in his barbershop! He puts the boards over the windows so they don’t break them, which is funny because that was his business in the movie “The Kid”, he would have the kid break the windows so he could go by and repair them. Everything’s connected. The barber puts on his barber coat, opens up the dusty shade, there’s sunlight and he stops. His hair is graying. Everything is covered in dust and cobwebs because he’s been at war and in the hospital for so long. Nobody’s been in his barbershop in years. I guess nobody can afford a haircut when their tomatoes are being stolen all the time. Charlie blinks, there’s a stormtrooper painting the word “Jew” on his open window. He tries to wipe it off. A stormtrooper kicks him in the ass and tells him to paint the word back on his window. “Who said?” Says the barber. The stormtrooper asks “Who are you?” The barber says “That’s my shop!” The stormtrooper says ‘Ya gonna put up a fight are ya” As he starts roughing up the barber. The barber smacks the stormtrooper with the paintbrush. The barber turns to another stormtrooper and says “Are you a policeman? That man just assaulted me!” They both start roughing up the barber. One stormtrooper punched the other by accident.
Hannah leans out the window and cracks both stormtroopers on the head with a frying pan. She accidentally smacks the barber too. He dances around like he’s dizzy. One of the stormtroopers has NOT fallen down yet, but the barber is still trying to run away, but he’s dizzy from being hit in the head with a frying pan. He starts running back the other way, says Hello to the stormtrooper who didn’t fall down, Hanna smacks the right stormtrooper! The stormtrooper tries to hug Charlie like he’s Frankenstein, finally falls down. The sign outside of Hannah’s says “laundry done here”. Hannah tells the barber to “Beat it! Are you crazy?” That’s the third time someone asked him if he’s crazy. She says “Look out! there’s more coming”. Hannah tells him to “Come in here!” She hides him from the stormtroopers. Hannah says “What’s wrong with you? You’re being foolhardy” Hannah hears the stormtroopers coming, covers up the barber’s mouth and says SHH! Which is hilarious because he’s a silent film star! The cops who got knocked out says there was a gang of them, even though it was just a barber and a chick with a frying pan. The cops go away. She tells him to shhh! Hannah opens the gate a crack, checks to make sure they’re gone. Hannah said that did her a lot of good. “We should all fight back! We can lick them together!” The barber is rather indifferent, goes into his barbershop (without thanking Hannah for saving his life… dick).
Hannah goes into the barbershop, recognizes him, says the stormtroopers are gonna be looking for him. She says she’ll get the key to the cellar so she can hide him. The stormtroopers come into the barbershop, they tell him to hail Hynkel, he doesn’t know what they’re talking about so they smack him. They drag the barber outside and they make him paint the word JEW on his shop! The barber splashes the paint on both stormtroopers, he tries to run away and Hannah smacks them on the head with the frying pan again! The barber runs down the street, a dozen stormtroopers round the corner, he runs the other way and MORE stormtroopers show up! He’s surrounded! He has a paintbrush in his hand, that’s it! It’s like 40 stormtroopers against Charlie Chaplin with a paintbrush! They drag him away as he holds the paintbrush. Oh no, they’re gonna hang him! They’re putting a noose around his neck! They’re lynching him on a public sidewalk! The barber hangs from a lamppost, strangling to death! The dictator’s advisor shows up. It’s the pilot he rescued at the beginning of the film! The advisor recognizes the barber and tells the stormtroopers to let him go. The stormtrooper covered in paint said he was attacking stormtroopers. The advisor says to let him go. The stormtroopers stand the barber up by his noose. It’s almost like Great Expectations. The barber recognizes the pilot he saved and says “How are you?” In a polite way. He’s so cute. The advisor says “This is a very brave man. I’m sure in the future he will NOT be molested again” to the stormtroopers. Hannah throws something on the guy covered in paint. The barber says that’s one of his friends.
Hynkel’s office: He’s writing with a fountain pen, stamping a letter. A narrator says he’s very busily occupied every part of the day. Hynkel has somebody lick his envelope for him, then mail it for him. He moves papers around, goes to the door where artists are on a break from painting a portrait and sculpting a bust of him. They get back to work as soon as Hynkel enters. He goes back into his office and talks to the guy with all the medals, going through some papers, he looks upset. Looks at his watch, says it’ll only take two minutes, so Hynkel goes with him to the demonstration of a bulletproof suit. They hand him a gun, he shoots the guy, who falls over because it doesn’t work. “Far from perfect” Hynkel says. He walks through the palace and trips over the giant fake swastica symbol on the floor, which made me giggle. He goes to where there’s a piano. He starts playing in a very repetitive manner to himself. Almost like he’s OCD, he’s trying to find the right note.
He gets up and sprays something into his mouth, like an old-timey perfume aspirator… I wonder what that is. Hynkel asks for his secretary. A guy with a trumpet calls his secretary. His secretary is a lady in a cute dress, with a cute hairstyle, and a notebook. He looks at her, grabs her like he’s gonna kiss her, she says “no no no!” And he growls at her! She goes limp in his arms, and he drops her on the couch. EVEN FAKE HITLER UNDERSTANDS CONSENT! Kinda… Hynkel answers the phone, hangs up the phone, they open it for him, there’s lots of art on the walls, a bunch of officials salutes him, he passively returns their salute. There’s a guy with a hat. It’s like a cinnamon bun that extends. What’s the hat supposed to do? Oh, the guy jumps out the window. Maybe the hat was supposed to save him, but it didn’t. Hynkel says “Why are you wasting my time?” So he’s trying to build a WMD, but he’s also trying to devise things that protect his soldiers, but none of that seems to work. Hynkel checks to make sure the artists are still working on his painting and bust. As soon as he leaves, they stop again. An advisor talks to him with some papers, Hynkel seems upset by this news. He opens a cabinet which is just a mirror. He looks at himself in the mirror and practices his poses while the advisor talks to him. Wiggles his mustache and his eyebrows. The advisor tells him he has to invade a bordering country. Hynkel is just looking in the mirror practicing his moves for his speeches. The advisor (the pilot) starts talking about the barber, who’s a “war hero” but also a Jew, so that’s a problem with them. The advisor/pilot negotiates for the barber’s life.
Barbershop: The barber is cutting Hannah’s Father’s hair, seems to be taking his time. Hannah is scrubbing the floor in the barbershop. It’s getting spruced up now that he’s out of the military hospital. The barber takes the cape off the father and the father gives him a coin for the haircut and shave. The barber opens the cash register, puts the coin in his pocket, and closes the cash register. Hannah’s father is re-tieing his tie in the mirror while Hannah and the barber exchange cute amorous glances. The father tells the barber to practice on Hannah because her hair is a MESS! “He’s going to make you look beautiful,” says her father. Hannah is excited because she’s got a dirt stain on her face and her hair is a frizzy mess. She’s like thanks dad! The barber seems a little giddy over practicing on a woman, oops, he falls in the sink. Hannah says she has to go do the laundry! Her father says something like “Nah, stay here and enjoy your haircut”. He wants them to hook up, that’s obvious.
The barber is a little bashful. Hannah says she likes the fixed up shop. She says there’s no future in housework! Don’t I know that! She says she can do anything! Money goes through her fingers like THAT! Why shouldn’t I? Here today, gone tomorrow, where are you? She asks the barber if he believes in God. She doesn’t let him answer before she says “I do! But if he wasn’t would we be here? I don’t think so.” She says things are looking brighter now. The barber puts a cloak around her as she talks about things going on. “Do you have dreams? I do…” Hannah says. “That’s the only time I’m really happy is when I’m dreaming. Sometimes I get so carried away I don’t know what I’m doing! Do you get like that? We’re both absentminded” Hannah says. You have a smudge of dirt on your cheek, so yeah. Is he shaving her? He’s putting shaving cream on her face. At least that’s cleaning the smudge off. Hannah giggles because the barber didn’t understand what the father meant by “Practice on Hannah”. The barber practices shaving Hannah’s face anyway. She laughs and is like “What are you doing?! That’s silly!” She was so caught up in her story that she didn’t realize he was trying to shave her. Flash forward, the barber turns Hannah towards the mirror after fixing her hair and she looks beautiful! Her curls are perfect and he even put a bow on her head. Aw! The look on her face is just astounded. “How’d ya do it?!” She says. “Did you try it on yourself? If you were fixed up, you’d look handsome!” He’s like “Nah…” She says she has to go and the barber smiles like he did a good thing. She runs out to the street and gathers some potatoes in her apron, trips over and spills the potatoes. Two stormtroopers pick her up off the ground and give her potatoes back to her. It’s because she looks pretty that they were nice to her. Holy shit! They say how do you do to the barber who’s sweeping up outside the barbershop.
Hannah wants to make friends with all the stormtroopers so they can just go about their business and be happy again. She daydreams “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just live and be happy again?”
Hynkel is dictating a letter to a secretary. Says a long sentence, she types two words. He goes over to her and says two words. She starts typing a long sentence, as he looks exasperated by her lengthy translation. Hynkel says period and she types a period. He reviews the letter, tries to pull his fountain pen out of the holder, it’s stuck and he gets mad. He throws the pen holder, tries the other one, that one’s stuck too! “Why isn’t this working!?” He’s yelling at his two blonde secretaries that are standing there kinda scared of him. He tears up what his secretary just typed for him and he says “get out!” The general with all the medals comes in like he’s got some good news! He says it will kill everybody! There’s an eagle above his desk. A lady in a fancy hat comes in says Hail Hynkel. She hands him a letter, Hynkel looks at it, seems concerned. Up, somebody’s going on strike! Hynkel doesn’t want any of his workers dissatisfied. He cannot afford to be lenient. He’s looking through the letters. The advisor says it’s the “brunettes” who are striking and he should “wipe them out”.
The advisor says they have to get rid of the Jews first and then the brunettes. The advisor wants him to be the brunette leader of a worldwide blonde race. “No nation would dare to oppose you,” He says. Hynkel looks happy as he dreams of this future. “You make me afraid of myself!” Hynkel says. He dancy-jumps to the window and climbs up the curtain. Why? The advisor calls him “Dictator of the world” His advisor is trying to make him take over the WORLD. Hynkel says he wants to be alone as he clings to the curtain. Everyone leaves. He climbs down from the curtain, goes over to his balloon globe, like he’s looking at it, sizing it up. He goes over to caress the translucent balloon globe, “Emperor of the world” he says… Big eyes. He picks up the globe and he spins it around on one finger, floats it from one hand to the other… He’s got the whole world in his hands! He bounces the globe off his head. He lets it bounce on the floor and he holds it. He dances around with the globe, kicks it so it floats up high, and he bounces it on his head again. Then he keeps playing with the balloon globe as if it’s a ballet. Kicks it while laying on his desk, the globe floats up while he lounges on his desk, then he bounces it off his butt! Twice! I love that! He spins the globe on his finger, looking at it lovingly. He dances around with the globe as he’s falling in love with the idea of being emperor of the world. He hugs the globe… and it pops! Aw, that sucks. You ruined it! He looks very sad. He cries while sitting on his desk. He had a nice butt…
At the barbershop, the radio says “Make sure your workday is happy!” The barber is shaving a bald man. The barber is shaving the man to the rapid tune of the music, sort of dancing while he’s shaving this dude’s face with a straight razor. The guy looks a little nervous over his methods, but the barber is very skilled at what he’s doing. The dude is just kinda flustered by the fact that this guy is dance-shaving him. The barber looks the guy over, sticks his finger in his ear, brushes his hair so it’s nice and neat, pulls the cape off of him says “15 cents please!” Puts the guy’s hat back on him, opens the cash register, but again he puts the 15 cents in his pocket. That’s weird. Two old men play chess in the courtyard, they’re drinking wine and listening to the radio. They’re saying business is much better. They think things are going to get better. Hannah’s father is cynical, but the other guy says “You’re so used to bad times, you’re unhappy without them! Women dress Hannah up to go out with the Barber. Aw! She looks beautiful! She’s in a bodice, poofy sleeved shirt, and a shawl, her hair is all fixed up. One lady tells Hannah “Your hands are messed up! He’ll know you do housework!” Duh! That’s how he met her! Of course, she knows she does housework! The barber is polishing a dude’s bald head in the shop and he checks his own reflection in the guy’s bald head.
The advisor comes in to talk to the dictator. The dictator cracks walnuts at some bad news. He starts pacing and yelling at the bad news. It’s about the Moussilini parody Abalone, says “He’ll deal with a medieval maniac more than he thinks!” Says Hynkel. He cracks walnuts while he says “I shall deal with him. We’re going to stage a little medieval entertainment in the ghetto.” The advisor says that will demoralize the people. The advisor says they’re going to send the barber to a concentration camp. Remember, the advisor is the pilot who the barber saved at the beginning and stopped the barber from being lynched in the streets. Another advisor tells Hynkel his policy is worse than a crime, it’s a tragic blunder! The guards drag HIM away to a concentration camp. Hynkel is so mad he’s yelling in fake German. He takes a banana, peels it, then just tears it in half and throws it aside! Why? Because he wants to tear Abalone’s dick off. Hynkel starts crying and praying to god “Why have you forsaken me?” A guy comes up and puts a cape around his shoulder like he’s James Brown or something. Another advisor in a cape approaches Hynkel with a paper. Hynkel struggles with his cape before taking the paper.
The barber is about to go out on a date with Hannah. Everybody thinks everything’s okay but now the dictator is after him because they say he’s speaking out against the dictator. So this is gonna be a bad night for them. Everyone in the building is there to see them off to their date because they’re so happy things are getting back to normal. The barber and Hannah walk down the street, arm in arm, in the Jewish Ghetto. He looks at his watch, then his pocket watch. Hannah says she doesn’t think the dictator was such a bad fella after all! The barber asks for two pins from a vendor bearing the Hynkel symbol as if he and Hannah are going to join the Hynkel party. Hynkel starts shouting into megaphones everywhere that he’s gonna kill the barber! And… the barber returns the pins. Everyone runs inside of their houses and shops, they take their produce and their wares, because they know the stormtroopers are coming for the barber. They’re like Holy shit! The dictator’s mad, everybody hide. They were supposed to go out on their date, but now everything’s closed. They’re like uhh, let’s go back. Then the stormtroopers arrive the barber jumps in a trash barrel, but his legs are sticking out. He pulls himself out of the barrel, picks up his hat and cane, takes Hannah’s hand and runs. The barber drops his hat and he’s like “Wait! I forgot my hat!” What are you, Indiana Jones? He’s trying to sneak-grab his hat and cane because that’s his LOOK, man! A stormtrooper walks up to him. He walks slowly away from the stormtrooper slowly, who touches him on the shoulder, the barber dives in a basement window. He forgot his hat!
The dictator yells, close-up on his face, into the microphones, turn off the radio says Hannah. It’s the stormtroopers! They’re coming! Everyone’s trying to run and hide! They’re coming to get them! Hannah’s screaming and crying saying “Mama, they’re coming to get us!” “Lock all the doors,” says father. “We’ve got to make a stand!” The stormtroopers are turning over the fruit carts, they have some weird-ass weapons, they’re trying to get into Hannah’s house. The barber tries to close the door to the gate. He was the first to stop them, now the stormtroopers are slamming him against the table! One official says “Wait! What do you think you’re doing?” Hannah reaches out the window and hits a stormtrooper on the head with a frying pan. The stormtroopers leave. Hannah’s father sits with his head in his hands. The barber sits there holding a little plant. He smells it. Oh, they were looking for Hannah! Probably all of the frying pan hitting. The barber pulls the plant out of the planter and says “Get out” to the stormtroopers. He tries to lean against the door frame, but he falls over.
They’re all locked inside Hannah’s house. “We want the barber!” They’re chanting. I guess they want them both. “Come on, they’ll kill you!” Hannah tells the barber. “Do you want to be burned?” He wants to stand up against them, but they want to hide him. Hannah pulls him upstairs. There’s a long shot of two caged birds next to the door as the stormtroopers rush in behind them. There are screams and crashing inside. Hannah leads the barber up to the roof. The stormtroopers start blowing shit up! The barbershop is on fire. The barber and Hannah watch his shop burn. Hannah and the barber watch the shop burn because that’s all they can do. “Nevermind, we can start again,” Says Hannah. She wants to leave the country and start a new life. She wants to buy chicken more often. She starts crying.
Cut to the dictator playing piano by himself. Nobody’s around, so he’s definitely playing to himself.
Back on the roof, Hannah looks up at the stars as the barber looks at the smoldering ruins of the shop. She gets him to look up at the stars. Father says “We have to leave right now!” They’re holding a meeting at midnight.
Hannah’s wearing a heart-shaped locket and making puddings for the men at the meeting. One of the stormtroopers (the pilot the barber saved) is on their side… they think. They’re drinking and plotting how to overthrow Hynkel. The barber listens, seems uneasy. He’s not really sure what to make of this guy’s speech. Are we sure if this guy a double-crosser? Hannah brings in the puddings, accidentally hits the barber in the head with the tray. They all start switching around the puddings as if one of them is poisoned as the stormtrooper continues his speech. None of them seem to really trust this guy, but they’re listening because he speaks with authority, his hands behind his back. Stormtrooper almost says “Hail Hynkel” and walks out. They’ve pledged their honor, time to eat the pudding. None of them trust the puddings. He just doesn’t want to take the one that was in front of him. The barber looks at the pudding suspiciously, takes a deep breath, and a bite… There’s a look on his face like there’s something wrong with it. There were coins in the puddings! The barber looks around like he’s still suspicious of these cakes being poisoned, but he smiles at everyone because what the hell else is he supposed to do? He’s got the hiccups. The barber coughs up three coins. Hannah comes in and says she put coins in every cake to show them kindness is the answer. She doesn’t like that they’re plotting to kill people. She’s the voice of reason!
Next morning, Hannah’s family is reading the paper, sees the stormtroopers are looking for the barber because he’s a Jew. Father says he’ll tell them they’ve never heard of him. There’s a knock at the door. The barber jumps into a trunk. Perfectly, like he practiced that. Who is it? It’s the little guy with the glasses. They thought it was gonna be the stormtroopers! There are spies everywhere, he says! Keep your voice down! The barber pops out of the box and scares the guy with the glasses. Father says if they find the barber here, they all get their heads cut off at concentration camps. Hannah’s father wants to know how long is he going to stay there? The weasely little guy with glasses says he has breakfast at home, goes out onto the street where there are stormtroopers looking for the barber. Glasses guy runs back in and tells them, Everyone tries to get in the box!
They make Hannah get the door. They’re searching every house! The Pilot he saved is there, helps him run away. They start packing all of his stuff, try to pack the tea set, he says I don’t need this tea set! Everyone piles all of the pilot’s stuff onto the barber, including his golf clubs, then they put a bucket over his head so he can’t see. The barber follows the pilot to the roof, almost steps over a ledge because he can’t see. The pilot tells him to STOP! Before he falls over the ledge, saving his life. The barber stumbles while running away from the stormtroopers, falls through somebody’s roof into their bedroom, says “Excuse me” so polite! And jumps back up through the hole he fell through. The stormtroopers storm the roof and the pilot hands the barber over to the stormtroopers like he caught him. FUCK! The pilot says “your silence will be appreciated.”
Newspapers: Schultz captured on the ghetto roof! Prison camp for Shultz! Shit! Charlie Chaplin’s getting sent to a concentration camp! He’s put into a suit and they’re goose-stepping and there’s a big portrait of Hynkel. They’re goose-stepping to their beds, which look a lot nicer than the pictures I’ve seen of concentration camps. I don’t think a lot of the truth about the holocaust was out yet when this film was released. They have mattresses and blankets… shoes?
Hannah and her father are free, they’re moving all their stuff to another country, smiling because they’re no longer in the ghetto. Into a new life! They’re on a farm, Hannah has two kids with her, are they her kids or are they just some kids they found? I don’t know. Look at all the grapes! So many beautiful grapes! They’re like let’s eat those with this wine I made… Hannah’s father sits down at the table, there’s fresh bread. Hannah writes a letter to the barber in the prison camp, telling him it’s beautiful here and she hopes they can all be together soon, she’s anxiously awaiting his release, he’ll love it here. She’s waiting for him! How does she get a letter into a concentration camp? I’m not sure Charlie Chaplin was 100% on how those places worked, but at this time I bet the Nazis were pretty secretive about it.
The barber reads the letters and it makes him smile. Seems like that makes him want to go on.
The dictator is speaking over a grand feast to his advisors. He tells them they’re ready to invade a country which is a parody of Italy. An advisor with a chest full of medals looks like he’s crying. He keeps sneezing on him and Hynkel puts another medal on the guy, no room left on his chest, he says “turn around”. He seems to have stabbed him with the medal. Hynkel kisses him on both cheeks while holding his ears and pushes his face away. Everybody stands at attention. They make a toast and throw down their glasses, bowing to each other. Very ritualistic. Ooops, he just hit his head on the guy with the medals while bowing… now they’re dizzy cause it’s a comedy. Somebody answers the phone. Uh oh, there’s some trouble afoot for the dictator! Hynkel is yelling at the guy with all the medals and he starts taking them off, while yelling, when he runs out of medals, he pulls the buttons off of his coat until he’s half-naked. Blames him for everything that went wrong. Hynkel even pulls the buttons off of his suspenders, then he smacks him.
Hynkel is signing a declaration of war. Why do his pens never come out of his pen holders? I would get frustrated too. The advisor hands him a pen and he signs it. Abalone is the dictator of the rival country. The pilot/advisor is on the phone for a long time. The dictator seems impatient. He says he can’t talk on the phone right now because he lost his voice. He wants someone to talk on the phone for him. They’re going to discuss diplomatic relations rather than declare war. Hynkel tears up the declaration of war.
They’re at the train station, waiting for Abalone, there’s a struggle getting the train to line up with the carpet Abalone insists on walking upon. Abalone is almost exactly like Hynkel, just fatter and his symbol has dice instead of XX’s. Hynkel and Abalone keep saluting each other and missing each other’s handshake, several times. They try to take pictures together and both of them want a full face in the picture. This is all celebrities meeting each other. They’re both trying to be the dominant face in the picture.
They go to the town square where the Arc de Triumph has a big sculpture of Hynkel and a clock added to it. They’re acting like they’re such good friends, even though Hynkel was just about to declare war on him, he’s like hey no let’s just talk about this. A crowd mobs the limo and wants to meet them. Abalone’s wife got left behind! How rude!
In his office, Hynkel says Abalone’s country belongs to him. The advisor is there, he says “I feel your superiority”. There is a single white flower on his desk. The advisor tries to tell him how to handle Abalone. He tells him to move the bust so that it’s always staring at him. He plots to embarrass him and Hynkel is so pleased! Abalone comes in with trumpets. Hynkel takes the white flower and poses with it. Abalone comes in and hits him on the back of the chest so hard he falls forward and hits his mouth on the desk. OUCH! They do the thing again where they salute/handshake opposite sides until they finally shake hands, then they hug twice! Abalone is looking around, kinda sizing up the place. Abalone is offered a ridiculously lower chair than Hynkel’s. He can’t get comfortable. Hynkel sniffs the flower and watches him struggle. Abalone senses what’s going on decides to stand up and sit on the desk in front of the bust, putting his cigarette out on the bus which was supposed to intimidate him. Abalone starts talking to the advisor. Abalone tells Hynkel he’s sorry that happened to his face. Hynkel says he’s sorry we left your wife at the railway station, Abalone doesn’t seem too concerned about that. Abalone’s kind of a dick. The dictator looks very nervous. Abalone wanders around like he owns the place and keeps talking to the advisor and not Hynkel. This is every director meeting with a producer. Hynkel seems very uncomfortable in his chair with his little white flower, he turns his face towards him and calls him Hinkey and hits him again.
Hynkel and Abalone go into a fancy barbershop. .Hynkel points out the glass ceiling above him. “What’s above that?” Abalone asks. “The ballroom” Hynkel replies. SO HE CAN SEE UP WOMEN’S DRESSES! OMG! How many folks didn’t notice that joke? So subtle. They compete about who can get his chair up to the highest. In a stadium, Abalone is spitting peanut shells at Hynkel. They’re watching some sort of demonstration of artillery, but this is a crowd-reaction only shot. We don’t see what they’re watching. Abalone’s got something to say about everything that his country does it better. The ballroom is the next scene. People are dancing to live music in fancy clothes. Hynkel is pacing out on his balcony, the advisor comes out. They’re plotting to invade Abalone’s country, which apparently everything is better there.
Hynkel dances with Abalone’s wife because he doesn’t seem to care much about her. Is he trying to seduce her or what’s going on here? He tells her dancing was “excellent, superb!” He kisses her hand, wipes it off, then he walks away. She’s a little confused and taken. He said, “AS YOU WISH!” To Abalone! Hynkel makes up an old saying in a language he’s been making up this whole movie. He tells everyone to get out, it’s a private meeting. Hynkel says Nope, you go to guy who I took all your metals and buttons away… Out, he says. There’s a big jar of English mustard and Abalone puts it on his sandwich. Hynkel asks for a plate of strawberries and puts cream on them as they negotiate a treaty. They have come to an impasse. They start arguing. Abalone wants Hynkel to sign the treaty.
Hynkel says how do I know you’ll remove the tubes if I sign the treaty? Abalone says How do I know you’ll sign the treaty if I remove the tubes!? I assume these are tunnels under the border where they’re sneaking in enemy soldiers. Abalone accidentally eats his sandwich with the treaty in it. They get into a food fight where Hinkel is holding a big sausage like a dick. He says “I’ll throw you in the ocean!” They’re all arguing in four different directions. I’m not really sure who to follow here. But they’re all just sort of yelling and saluting themselves. Hynkel accidentally puts mustard on his strawberries, starts choking. Abalone starts choking on the mustard on his sandwich, they’re both writing and choking on a couch while stuffing napkins in their mouths. That does not stop them from arguing, they point and make angry noises at each other. Hynkel picks up a bunch of cooked noodles and says “I’m going to tear your people apart like this!” And he can’t tear the noodles apart. He slaps Abalone in the face with them instead. Charlie picks up a big sausage, Abalone picks up a pie. Because this is a comedy. A press guy shows up and gets a pie in the face. COMEDY! The food fight continues until Hynkel says he’ll sign. Then they hug! Everything’s okay!
They’re outside, a soldier runs up to another soldier at the concentration camp. The pilot has switched Hynkel for the barber. Everyone is going to think the barber is the dictator. “The planes are searching for us,” says the pilot. The border’s that way… The dictator is in a dingy with a gun. He sees a duck and shoots it, falling out of the dingy. The soldiers from the concentration camp think he’s the barber and bring him back there. They did a switch-a-roo… Stormtroopers act like the barber is a dictator, so they just go along with it. The trumpet plays and all the stormtroopers come out. They salute the barber. They put him in the dictator’s limousine… they all bought it. The pilot was just trying to sneak him out of the country, instead, they accidentally replaced the dictator with the barber. The barber asks “What happens now?” The pilot says “Just relax” so he faints. Tanks start rolling out of haystacks.
Newspapers: Ghettos raided! Jewish Property Confiscated! They’re clearing out the ghettos. It’s about to get deadlier than normal. The stormtroopers try to make a guy paint JEW on is store window and he tells them “You paint it!” And they immediately shoot him. This seems to be the only time we see someone get shot in this movie and it’s horrifically tragic.
Hannah screams on the farm! She says the dictators are coming! They punch Hannah’s father in the face. She tries to fight him off with the shovel and he smacks her in the face! What a dick! Then he eats some of her grapes! Double dick! They push them all out.
Newspaper: Austerlitz awaits the conqueror!
There’s a huge crowd, there’s a stage with the word “LIBERTY” engraved under it. They take the coat off the barber, expecting him to give a speech as the dictator. There’s a long, slow walk up the stairs, past the word “LIBERTY”, Everyone is saluting the barber. This is the most famous scene in the whole movie. He sits down and his chair breaks, they get him another chair, there’s a lot of chair shuffling because…. COMEDY! The guy who introduces him says “In the future, each man will serve the interest of the state. The rights of citizenship will be taken away from all the Jews. The people will obey the laws bestowed on them by their great leader…” Who is now the barber! The look on the barber’s face says “People have to obey me now…” The responsibility of that makes him look awed, uncomfortable and empowered. He realizes he can save all the Jews! He humbly approaches the microphone with his hat off. He stops for a minute and really thinks.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible. Jew, Gentile, black man, white, they all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. This world has room for everyone, the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone, and be free and beautiful. We have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls. It has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed, we have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives us abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, cleverness hard and unkind, we think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity, more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together, the very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all, even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and children. Victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. Those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is upon us is but the passing of greed. The bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die. The power they took from the people will return to the people. So long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes! Men who despise and enslave you, who regiment your lives! Tell you what to do, what to think, and what to feel! Who drill you, tire you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men! Machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not cattle! You are MEN! With the love of humanity in your heart! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate, the unloved and unnatural. In the 17th chapter of St. Luke it is written that God is within MAN! Not in one man, but in all men! You the people have the power! The power to create machines! The power to create happiness! You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful! To make this life a wonderful adventure! In the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us UNITE! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world, that will give men a chance to work, give children a future, and old aged a security. By the promise of these things, BRUTES have risen to power! But they LIED! They do not fulfill that promise! Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people! NOW LET US FIGHT TO FULFILL THAT PROMISE! Let’s fight to free the world! Do away with national barriers! Do away with Greed, with Hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason! A World of science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!!