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In anticipation of Criterion’s release of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator next month, and in honor of the one hundredth entry in his DVD of the Week column on his New Yorker blog, The Front Row, Richard Brody has begun a weeklong tribute to the dark comedy. This masterpiece is one of the critic’s favorites, from a director he calls “the transcendent figure in the history of cinema.” In his first post, Brody features a four-minute video of clips from the controversial film, accompanied by his always eloquent voice-over. “The film is very funny, but at the same time it is, in the guise of fiction, the greatest documentary about the persecution of Jews under the Nazi regime, at least until the making of Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah,” he says. Specifically, he cites the film’s tendency to have characters look the camera directly in the eye, as if to say, “This is not a fiction, this is really happening.” Watch the video here, and check back with Brody throughout the week for more on The Great Dictator.