A Day in the Life of a Dictator

A Day in the Life of a Dictator

2015, History  -   26 Comments
Ratings: 8.25/10 from 238 users.

A probing documentary of great imagination and scope, A Day in the Life of a Dictator explores the mindset of three tyrannical leaders during periods of time that defined their reigns. The trio of dictators - Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin Dada and Muammar Gaddafi - are brought to life through searing accounts from historians and witnesses, revealing stock footage, and inventive photo-realistic replications of the leaders as they function hour-by-hour through each tumultuous event.

"Once he decided to attain absolute power, he would never relinquish it," observes Alexandre Allilouiev, nephew of Joseph Stalin. "He was a monster." In order to achieve his goals, Stalin set about re-imaging the vast empire in his own image, which included the extermination of all those who dared oppose or refused to adhere to his ideology. The film follows the activities of Stalin on November 24, 1938 - a crucial day that set in motion the end of his Great Purge.

Muammar Gaddafi is shown rising from his bed the morning of June 28, 1996. A man driven and destroyed by an insatiable need for wealth and excess, Gaddafi lies in fearful hiding from those who seek to end his unspeakably ruthless reign. The film dramatizes one of the bloodiest chapters in Libyan history, as inmates at Abu Salim prison plan a revolt against the countless cruelties and human rights violations they've been forced to suffer under the orders of Gaddafi. This event will culminate in the brutal massacre of nearly 1300 of these prisoners.

"People were scared of him, and also he was scared of the people," says Babby Salamshyda of her father, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada. One of the people who provoked Amin's fear was a member of his own family who planned to overthrow him. The film dramatizes the events of March 26, 1974, when Amin set in motion a plan to quell this familial threat.

Each dictator is characterized by an all-encompassing thirst for absolute power, a gnawing paranoia of their own people, and a willingness to commit the most garish acts of violence when their dominance is threatened. Stunning in its ability to place these horrific dictatorships in a human context, A Day in the Life of a Dictator is a unique and vital living history.

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steve taylor
4 years ago

Mao was omitted, the greatest mass murder of all. Eighty to one hundred million victims. Most by deliberate starvation...

6 years ago

Does anyone know any other doc's like this?

6 years ago

Sure, they were all mad perhaps, but what have Stalin and Idi Amin done for their countries? Libya had the best standard of living than everywhere else in Africa and better in almost all indexes than other countries. If you want, study the socialist system in Libya and then think why 97% of Libyans said they supported Gaddafi after his death. I'm sure Stalin and Idi Amin were just as loved by their own people.

6 years ago

This was actually a very thought provoking and educational at points documentary. I don't think the narration or script, diction or focus was biased or could be considered propaganda at all. But, it's just one cat's opinion.

6 years ago

huumm,not sure about this,,3 dictators from 3 continents,,how about the rest....in this modren world children are crying,intellingent people warning us and none talk about our similarity,something is wrong...world bonkers ..Ooops Bankers....Think about it...Believe someone out there can bring better world and hope for future...no god no polotics,just humans,hope for better world,all go back to the box like monopoly and we start again ,Whats the legacy? our differencies instead our similarities....Bonne annee..mes amis du monde...

X on Earth
6 years ago

Where's the biggest one of all, dictator Cheney?

6 years ago

is there biasness in this documentary

Ferenc Csicseri
7 years ago

It is always the peoples fault to let murderous bastards commiting such crimes ,and doing nothing. At least Lybians take care of that piece of sh*t even through they waited 40 something years

7 years ago

Anyone calling this propoganda either didn't watch it or supports the ideology of one of these nasty people portrayed. I thought this documentary was very well made, historically accurate, and a visually unique.
Kudos to the film's makers for such a well thought out production.

7 years ago


A dreadful trio of mad, evil men

7 years ago

well all 3 were despots no doubt but i cant decide whether idi or murmar was the most mad lol

7 years ago

All depictions of historical events are skewed--by time, change in perspectives, cultural differences, and by new knowledge on the topics. Despite efforts to contextualize heinous behavior all such films can only produce the telling of history from a particular standpoint. This is how all history is written/told ("history is written by the victors" according to Benjamin) as there is never any human capable of non-subjectivity (i.e., being completely unbiased). My point is no matter how much one may attempt to tell history in an entirely unbiased manner, we all have a standpoint--we are all raised in particular social milieus that produce value and belief systems which always influence how we interpret human behavior and personal experience. Nevertheless this fact does not detract from this film in which the past has been related in a highly engaging manner, pulling audience members in through the use of scenarios to which we can relate. This is a decidedly different strategy from most other efforts. In particular other efforts most often do not enable audiences to see that humans don't have to be non-human to behave in the most despicable ways. In fact, one could argue, this film shows that these three individuals are far too human in the worst ways possible. That makes this film rather extraordinary.

7 years ago

Those that call this propaganda are probably the same who call the actual films of the starving Nazi and Japanese POWs in concentration camps propaganda....

7 years ago

I don't know why everyone calls it propaganda considering that the details in this movie are considered to be historical facts and the psychological profiles of the leaders go in line with what professionals in the community have said. The movies simply goes into greater detail to understand the lives of these men by looking into their lives in greater perspective.

7 years ago

Apart from bad childhood and lack of fatherly figure in early years, less than 4 hours of sleep daily would surely have accentuated their monstrosities. A good documentary. Looking forward for similar one on Saddam, Assad, Mao, Pol Pot, Bush Jr. and Hitler.

8 years ago

Full marks for this. Great presentation. No bias.

8 years ago

@Harris. What facts do you disagree with? While I am much less familiar with Dada and Gaddafi, I did not sense any irregularities with the film's portrayal of Stalin. He did indeed have Yezhov killed as a scapegoat for his crimes of arbitrary arrests and mass executions in order to save face with the Russian people. Also, this is propaganda from who? Who is trying to make these dictators 'look bad/look guilty'?

8 years ago

This is clearly a propaganda document. The facts are also made up.

8 years ago

Colonialists were just as brutal and power hungry these individuals were merely the leftovers of a barbaric age.

The drummerboy 121
8 years ago

Really enjoyed this one, and gives you an idea what went on behind the scenes and the mind set with these criminals,Thankyou.

8 years ago

Come on, this is petty propaganda- it does not take a rocket scientist to see through the innuendo--but good luck!

Michael Douglas
8 years ago

Sure these were crazy people but whenever a "documentary" dramatizes the events as this one does, it seems like little more than propaganda.