10 Classic Films Whose Themes Still Ring True Today

10. The Great Dictator (1940)

The Great Dictator If I wanted to I could buffer this list exclusively with Chaplin films. From the first time he stepped behind the camera to his final films Chaplin had an understanding of the world that an infinitesimally small number of people had at the time. His film, The Great Dictator, is an outward parody of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, but there's so much more to it. I'd say he keeps his commentary subtle, but he doesn't. At All. At the film's conclusion Chaplin, playing the Jewish barber, pretending to be Tomanian dictator Adenoid Hynkel (which is Chaplin's criticism of himself!) proffers a speech that sums up the entire two-hour spectacle. He discusses the misery men put each other through, but how that's not the nature of man; goodness is. He praises the closeness that science has provided mankind and appeals to the world to use science to knock down national barriers and improve the quality of life for every man, woman and child. It's an optimistic speech, a speech that was inspired by the ugliness World War II and its perpetrators inflicted on the world. It's a speech that sees beyond that temporary barriers of hate established by the dictators and envisions a world of togetherness, of unity. Whilst orating, Chaplin as the Jewish barber as Hynkel as Chaplin carries in his eyes and deep sadness. This sadness is what makes the film so relevant to today's world, because Chaplin knew that his speech would fall on deaf ears, thereby offering irony to an earlier line when Chaplin says he is being heard by "millions of people." Who was really listening? Although I'm not stuffing this list with Chaplin, we will see one other of his films later on...
Contributor
Contributor

I'm a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Broadcast & Cinematic Arts and a Minor in Journalism. I've been writing about film for four years and am also a screenwriter. My fifth script ever was turned into my student film, produced the summer before my fourth year.