The Great Dictator was a 1940 satire film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. He plays the fascist leader of a fictional totalitarian state called Tomania. This country is a clear parody of Nazi Germany, which at the time was instigating the Second World War.
One of the most obvious ways in which the film mocks the Nazis is through Tomania’s flag. It is designed to resemble that of Hitler’s Germany, which at the time was red with a white circle in the centre. Within this centre was a swastika, the symbol for national socialism.
In The Great Dictator, the viewer is unable to see the colour of Tomania’s flag as everything is shot in black and white. However, stills from behind the scenes show that the banner had the same shade of red as Germany’s. Furthermore, it also has a white oval and two black crosses in the middle, which look very similar to a swastika.
The parodying nature of this banner goes with the primary purpose of the film. Many news publications such as the Telegraph have noted that Chaplin had a disdain for Hitler and his policies. He made The Great Dictator to undermine his image as a powerful and formidable leader.
Chaplin plays Adenoid Hynkel, Tomania’s state head. Throughout the film, the interiors where he works and lives contain the flag, as mentioned earlier. There are also several variations which can be spotted by eagle-eyed viewers. For instance, one banner has a black oval and white crosses. Another omits the oval entirely.