It's all about the Great War this weekend at the Landmark Loew's Theatre as two classic films will take over the big screen in honor of the 100th anniversary of WWI. "The Great Dictator" from 1940 and "The Big Parade" from 1925 will be screened Saturday, respectively at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
It’s all about the Great War this weekend at the Landmark Loew’s Theatre as two classic films will take over the big screen in honor of the 100th anniversary of WWI. “The Great Dictator” from 1940 and “The Big Parade” from 1925 will be screened Saturday, respectively at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
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“The Great Dictator” is known not for just being the first non-silent film for Charlie Chaplin, but also the first film to openly condemn Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy. While the film mocks two political figures from WWII, it shines light on the fact that it was the horrors of the first World War that led to the second. Chaplin actually began work on “The Great Dictator” days after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, which was the beginning of WWII.
While “The Great Dictator” deals with standard slapstick comedy one would expect from Chaplin, the film’s opening scenes are regarded as a good representation of what the reality of the first World War was like — depicting the birth of trench warfare and large artillery weapons. Chaplin plays the dual roles of the barber, the movie’s protagonist, and Adenoid Hynkel, the antagonist who was heavily modeled after Hitler. During a battle in WWI, the barber is a Jewish private who loses his memory. The movie jumps ahead 20 years where he has now regained his memories and works as a barber in a ghetto that is governed by Hynkel’s forces.
The film also stars comic actor Jack Oakie, whose character Benzino Napaloni is an imitation of Benito Mussolini. Other cast members include Paulette Goddard, Henry Daniell, and Billy Gilbert.
After the screening of Chaplin’s antics and criticism of the Nazi regime, the Loew’s will step back into the silent era with “The Big Parade.” Starring one of the biggest matinee idols in silent films, John Gilbert, who plays an all-American boy looking for adventure and glory as he signs up for service during WWI. While at first showcasing the friendly camaraderie between him and his fellow soldiers, the film takes on a darker tone when they enter their first battle. In contrast to the lighthearted build-up, the film’s second half reveals the horror of war in what where at the time some of the most realistic battle scenes ever shot. These scenes were intended to mirror the shock that so many young men felt when seeing battle for the first time.
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“The Big Parade” was one of the first American movies that refused to glorify war, paving the way for many war films that would follow that same sentiment in the coming decades such as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Platoon,” and “Saving Private Ryan.” “The Big Parade” would go on to become one of the biggest box office successes during the silent era as well as for MGM Studios. It remained their biggest money maker until they released “Gone With the Wind” 14 years later.
“The Great Dictator” will be screened at 6 p.m. while “The Big Parade” will follow at 8:30 p.m., accompanied by live organ music by Bernie Anderson. Admission for each film is $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and children. The Landmark Loew’s Theatre is located at 54 Journal Square Plaza, Jersey City.
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