the colonial theatre marquee

Illuminating Cinema: The Great Dictator

Directed by Charlie Chaplin. US. 1940. NR. 2 hours 5 minutes. Janus Films. Digital.
Wed., September 5, 2018
September 5, 2018
7:00 pm

Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, scored and starred in this revolutionary comedy/drama that follows the parallel stories of an amnesiac WWI hero/barber (Chaplin) and a rising fascist dictator Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin). After joining the rebellion, the barber who bears a remarkable resemblance to the dictator soon finds himself in a position that could change the current state of affairs.

This screening is part of our Illuminating Cinema series. Please scroll down to read important information about tickets for this program and series.

About the Talk & Conversation

In his seminal essay, Funny, But Not Vulgar (1945), George Orwell famously stated that “every joke is a tiny revolution,” arguing that the foundation of truly memorable humor lies in its raising of topics that “the rich, the powerful and the complacent would prefer to see left alone” – a view that echoes that of Freud (1905), who believed humor to be a mechanism by which the individual is able to express their hostility towards the group, the culture, or the world, that seeks to oppress them.

Such observations on humor seem to epitomize much at the core of Chaplin’s, The Great Dictator (1940). Throughout the 1930s, Chaplin had become increasingly concerned with the state of world politics; exemplified by the rise of totalitarian regimes — Stalin in the Soviet Union; Hitler in Germany; Mussolini in Italy; Franco in Spain. Although Chaplin had previously explored such dynamics in Modern Times (1936), as well as his short story Rhythm (1938), it is within The Great Dictator, that his hostility towards the victimization of the helpless can be most clearly witnessed.

Our conversation, framed by an analysis of the role of the comedian in society, will explore Chaplin’s style of humor, in particular the ways in which the filmmaker sought to create a work of art that would stand in opposition to the doctrine of xenophobic prejudice, hate and fear preached by many of the world’s leaders.

About the Speaker

Andrew Owen received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Bangor University, Great Britain, and was a fulltime faculty member at Cabrini University. Andrew is also a house manager here at the Colonial.

Andrew’s main areas of interest relate to the social history of censorship within popular culture; analyzing areas related to propaganda, horror, and the societal and cultural dynamics of censorship discourse and practice. Andrew is also interested in the study of humor, especially as it pertains to its usage by subordinated social groups to attack, challenge, or draw attention to the oppressive ideologies and practices of the dominant social group.


7:00PM – Pre-Show Talk in the Garden Suite
7:30PM – Film Screening in the 1903 Theatre
9:30PM – Post-Show Conversation in the Garden Suite


Adults: $25
Members, Seniors & Students: $20
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In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn, a free small soda, a complimentary theatre cup and $5 beer or wine.

A limited number of tickets are available for each Illuminating Cinema presentation so we encourage advance purchases.

Discounts are available when you purchase tickets for all current Illuminating Cinema selections during the same transaction.

Member Passes are not accepted for this program.

About Illuminating Cinema

When the credits end that’s when the conversation begins!

Illuminating Cinema connects you with film fans of all ages for fun, refreshments and engaging conversation. Each presentation begins in our beautiful Garden Suite with a pre-show introduction from a guest speaker who offers insight and observation to help sharpen your focus on the respective film. After the lights go up in the historic 1903 auditorium, we’ll gather in the Garden Suite for a convivial post-film conversation with the speaker and each other.

In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn, a free small soda, a complimentary theatre cup and $5 beer or wine.

Focus your appreciation for film with Illuminating Cinema!