A couple of days ago, as I was perusing my Facebook page, the Sundance Kabuki theater put two pictures side by side and asked for comments. One was a picture of Charlie Chaplin from “The Great Dictator”. The other was a picture of Sacha Baron Cohen from “Dictator”.
Now, this is where I wear my film snob tie with pride. I would rather watch “The Great Dictator” than the Sascha Baron Cohen movie.
While Charlie Chaplin was an excellent physical comedian. He had great timing. However, he was also a comedian back in the ’20’s and ’30’s. That means that the humor was less crass and more wit. Personally, I prefer wit. It requires thought.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve said here that I don’t like modern comedy movies. It’s true, I don’t. I don’t find crass humor funny. “The Dictator” seems precisely that. I might be wrong about that… but that’s what I have gotten about Sacha Baron Cohen’s movies. I could be wrong, I haven’t sat down and watched one. I’m going entirely on my impressions.
Than there’s the topic matter. They’re both about dictators. However, the image of dictators has greatly changed since Chaplin’s time. When Chaplin made “The Great Dictator” they had Hitler (which is obvious from the imagery of the movie). The scope and beliefs of dictators then and now have greatly changed. Hitler had his eye on the world.
In modern times dictators aren’t necessarily looking to take over the world. It’s more like a local power. Many dictators are within the Middle East. That’s not to say that they have sole proprietorship of dictators, but the ones we hear about are from that region.
However, this isn’t a piece about dictatorships. This isn’t a poli-sci discussion. This is a discussion of movies. Two movies that talk about a similar subject.
So, why would I rather watch “the Great Dictator”?
It’s simple. I do not like modern humor. It seems as though most American comedy movies settle on the lowest common denominator. That makes me sad. It doesn’t give people credit for being able to get humor one would need think about.
Maybe that’s just the way comedy movies are these days. It’s neither good nor bad, it simply is. It’s a sign of the times we live in as movies are simply reflections of the world the writers are in. And while I can hope for a time where wit comes back en vogue. I’ll still watch and enjoy movies like “The Great Dictator” and other movies of the ilk.