The Great Dictator with the Timothy Brock and the Hamburger Symphoniker

It’s one of the great masterpieces of film history, »perhaps the most significant film ever produced« (New York Times): with »The Great Dictator«, Charlie Chaplin created not only a satire of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism, but also a general manifesto against totalitarianism and war. In the opening week of the Hamburg International Music Festival, which is centred around the theme of »War and Peace«, the film is being screened in the Elbphilharmonie – with the soundtrack performed live by the Symphoniker Hamburg.

As with his earlier films, Chaplin was responsible for the script, direction and production on »The Great Dictator«. And he also acted the two main roles: the tyrant Anton Hynkel and the Jewish barber who is terrorised in the ghetto by Hynkel’s stormtroopers. The great similarity between these two characters leads to a mix-up at the end of the film and to that famous speech in which the »wrong« dictator takes to the stage and, in a passionate address, makes a plea for humanity and world peace.

»The Great Dictator«, Chaplin’s first sound film, is shown in English with the original soundtrack by Charlie Chaplin and Meredith Willson. Talking about the composition process, Willson explained: »We broke the picture into 70 musical sequences and spent weeks fitting original music to these sequences.« In this process, Chaplin’s role was far more than simply providing the occasional idea: »I have never met a man who devoted himself so completely to the idea of perfection as Charlie Chaplin. I was constantly amazed at his attention to details, his feeling for the exact musical phrase or tempo to express the mood he wanted.«

In addition to their original music, Willson and Chaplin made memorable use of two classical works: the scene in which Chaplin as the barber shaves a customer to the rhythms of Johannes Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 has gone down in film history, as has Hynkel the dictator’s dance with the inflated globe to the sound of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin prelude.

Performances dates

  • 28 Apr 24 The Great Dictator with Timothy Brock at Hamburg 🇩🇪 show

Concert Information