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The Great Dictator (movie)

Last modified: 2006-01-21 by marc pasquin
Keywords: the great dictator | movies | charlie chaplin | tomania |
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About Flag Colours in the movie

The TV channel France5 has produced a series of short films called "Chaplin aujourd'hui" (Chaplin Today). Every part of the series is dedicated to one of Chaplin's films, analyzed by a modern movie director. The producer of the series is Serge Toubiana, now director of the French Cinémathèque. The first film analyzed in the series is "The Great Dictator". During the making-off of the film, Chaplin's brother Stanley filmed some scenes with his personal camera, and therefore we have a few colour images of the film. The milician's trousers are red. More important (for us), Stanley Chaplin filmed the last scene of the movie, when the Jewish barber replaced Hynkel and gave his speech. There are standard bearers in the scene and the flags of Tomania shown have black double crosses ... but a yellow field, and not red as expected. The flags are fairly furled, but it seems that all the flag field is yellow and that the crosses are placed in the middle, without a white oval or disk around them.
Ivan Sache, 16 may 2003

Regarding the color of the flag, there was a short thread on the list back in March, The consensus was that the actual color used in the production was not meant to suggest that was the intended color of this fictional flag. The feature film itself was shot in black & white, and any color of similar intensity would do. As Al has pointed out, where the studio did display color for public consumption- e.g. promotional posters- the flag had a red field.
Ned Smith, 16 may 2003


by António Martins-Tuválkin

I watched "the Great Dictator" (which is a good movie, by the way, in case you haven't seen it) and noticed, that as the barber is being driven by the Tomanian military in their invasion near the end of the movie, there are a lot of flags and banners along one street, with the Tomanian insignia, the double cross. Being a black and white picture, I can't be exactly sure what the colors are, but from what I can tell, it would be black and white, and shows a pair of crosses together in the center of the flag, in a diagonal arrangement. The arm band and banner insignias are different, resembling the Nazi arm bands more closely, with the double cross symbol in a white oval.
Mac Rosevelt, 3 october 2002

I've found a poster showing Chaplin in front of the flag. The double cross emblem appears on Chaplin's hat in the poster even as he obscures it on the flag. But it is a clear parody of the Nazi flag, with a red background and a black double cross on a white ellipse (major axis vertical.)
Albert Kirsch, 10 october 2002

In a programme about Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" there is colour footage made from the set of the movie that shows some flags. The armbinds were skyblue with the emblem white crosses on a black oval. There were also yellow flags with the two black crosses, and vertical banners that appeared to be black, white & grey, like António's image on FOTW.

The cover/poster of the movie shows a red flag, and a red armband on Chaplin. The grey and skyblue was probably chosen because they "appear" as red in black & white.
Jostein Nygård, 3 march 2003

Tomania's Vertical Banner

by António Martins-Tuválkin

Some footage of the movie shows also vertical hanging flags, with the emblem in inverted colors (white crosses on white-rimmed black ovals) on a medium background. It seems too light to be red, even if it would be so to go along with the national flag (documented red in color promo material, as Al shown), but I didn't want to risk and colored it grey instead.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 11 october 2002

Tomania's marching soldiers flag

by António Martins-Tuválkin

Something for yet another tomanian flag, held by parading soldiers. It shows hanging windless, so I had to guess a bit.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 11 october 2002